‘Pumped up’ Huskers preparing for No. 10 Gamecocks

Nebraska’s players are genuinely excited about playing in the

Capital One Bowl against 10th-ranked South Carolina.

It looks like the fans are, too.

Nebraska has sold about 8,000 tickets in the five days since the

matchup was announced. That’s more than the total the school sold

for the Holiday Bowl matchup with Washington last year, when a pair

of free basketball tickets were thrown in with each sale.

A couple of spirited practices this week showed the players’

level of excitement.

”Of course there’s going to be a different attitude,”

linebacker Lavonte David said. ”Last year we played in the same

bowl game two years in a row and played the same team we played

already. This year we get a better opportunity, a better bowl game,

a much tougher team, an SEC team. The guys are already pumped

up.”

Washington clearly was a bad draw last year. The Huskers were

coming off a loss in the Big 12 championship game for the second

year in a row and had to play an opponent they had beaten by 35

points on the road three months earlier.

”Nobody wanted to practice, nobody wanted to do anything.

Nobody cared or really wanted to play the game,” offensive lineman

Jermarcus Hardrick said.

Washington won 19-7, and Hardrick said he and his teammates felt

the embarrassment until they were able to play the Huskies yet

again in Lincoln in September. Nebraska won that third meeting,

51-38.

”Everybody wants to go out the right way now,” Hardrick said.

”We don’t want to end like last year. I hated that sour taste in

my mouth from the Washington game.”

The Huskers (9-3) haven’t played a Southeastern Conference team

since a 17-14 loss to Auburn in the Cotton Bowl following the 2006

season. Nebraska has won all three meetings with South Carolina,

most recently in 1987.

South Carolina (10-2) is having its best season since 1984, with

its only losses coming against defending national champion Auburn

and on the road to Arkansas.

”The SEC is dominant. They’ve won the last five (national)

titles. That doesn’t lie,” Hardrick said. ”It’s a big opportunity

for us.”

The Huskers lost two of their last four games and finished third

in the Legends Division in their first year in the Big Ten. They’re

going for their third straight 10-win season, an accomplishment

that would help offset the disappointment of not making it to the

conference championship game.

”That was our goal at the beginning of the season,” running

back Rex Burkhead said. ”Still, I think we had a great season. We

grew and improved as a team. Sending the seniors out for their last

home game against Iowa was a good deal, and hopefully we can do the

same in our bowl game.”