The stats that mattered from South Carolina's 30-13 win over Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl, from South Carolina's ten fluky points, to Taylor Martinez's dreadful passing line, to one final, maddening glimpse of Alshon Jeffery's ceiling.
2: Ejections. I wrote in the preview that the one-on-one battle between South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery and Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard could be very entertaining. I meant that in the "both are really good at their jobs at times" way, not the "both are going to get into a scuffle and get ejected" way. But it was just as well for Dennard; it was the only way he was going to be able to claim a draw in the battle. But we'll come back to that.
5: Trips made by each team inside the opponent's 40. South Carolina outgained the Huskers by 98 yards, but thanks in part to field position, Nebraska gave themselves plenty of chances to score. But they turned the ball over at the Carolina 35 and seven (turnovers worth 9.7 equivalent points), and previously automatic kicker Brett Maher missed a 35-yarder. Meanwhile, Carolina missed a field goal, too, but scored touchdowns on each of their other trips.
10: Unexpected points that swung toward South Carolina.
Nebraska gashed the Gamecocks on their opening drive, driving 46 yards in just three plays. But instead of leading by a 7-0 margin, it was 6-2 because defensive tackle Travian Robertson blocked the point after attempt, and Stephon Gilmore returned it for two points.
Then, to end the first half, Alshon Jeffery made magnificent work of a pretty poor Hail Mary pass.
So in a 17-point loss, Nebraska lost 10 points to fluke plays and handed over another nine in turnovers. Sometimes you are your own worst enemy.
40: Percent of Nebraska's tackles for loss made by Lavonte David. The Cornhuskers made a dreadfully low number of tackles for loss all season, especially for a team typically reliant on winning with defense and special teams. But David came into the bowl having made 20 percent of the team's TFLs and sacks, and he made even more than that against Carolina. And now he's off to the NFL. Without his chief playmaker, his best cornerback, likely his best defensive tackle (the injured Jared Crick) and his brother/defensive coordinator, Bo Pelini faces a tough task in rebuilding a once-fearsome defense next season.
60: Approximate seconds that elapsed between me tweeting "From a 'styles make fights' perspective, can we ban all future SEC-Big Ten bowls?' and the best "This is a Big Ten-SEC game" series of plays all day. Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah was hit by D.J. Swearinger at the South Carolina 7 and not only fumbled, but saw the ball pop up about 20 feet into the air. South Carolina recovered, hit a 78-yard bomb to Jeffery ... and then missed a 20-yard field goal. There were plenty of big plays yesterday, and some occasional good offense, but for the most part these two conferences just need to call a truce and play other conferences. (I'm sure the Big Ten wouldn't mind too much.)
91: Yards gained on Nebraska's first two drives. Hot knife, meet butter. Carolina's fluky blocked PAT didn't seem like it would matter much because 12 minutes into the game, Nebraska was averaging 8.3 yards per play. They scored touchdowns on each drive and led, 13-9. Unfortunately, they would not score again. They averaged just 3.2 yards per play the rest of the way, gained just 162 yards, suffered the aforementioned turnovers and missed field goal, and punted five times. Led by Swearinger (whose stat line of seven tackles, one tackle for loss, and one forced fumble belied the fact that he was probably the best player on the field), Gilmore (one tackle for loss, one interception, and two points), Jadeveon Clowney (two sacks), Melvin Ingram (1.5 sacks), etc., the 'Cocks completely clamped down on the limited Husker offense. Taylor Martinez was sacked six times in his final 18 pass attempts (he was 8-for-12 for 72 yards and 41 lost sack yards from the third drive on), Rex Burkhead and Abdullah combined to average just 3.3 yards per carry, and Nebraska limped to the finish line.
366: Days between 100-yard receiving games for Alshon Jeffery. That I had to wait just over a year to enjoy Jeffery again makes me very angry. After logging eight 100-yard games in his sophomore season, Jeffery seemed to simply check out for good portions of the 2011 season. Between zone coverage designed to slow him down, quarterback issues related to Stephen Garcia's struggles, and body language that screamed "To hell with this, I'm going into the draft next year," Jeffery's production fell from 88 receptions and 1,517 yards to 49 receptions and 762 yards. It was nice to see him completely dominate one last time, but it was maddening to also be reminded of all the times he didn't.