Alshon’s Eleven: MVP leads Gamecocks to record year

Put it in the record books: The 2011-12 season, at least mathematically, was the greatest in Gamecocks’ history.

Star receiver Alshon Jeffery made an early exit from what might have been his final game at South Carolina, but not before putting up big numbers and helping the Gamecocks set a school record with their 11th victory, a 30-13 win over Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl. He was named the game’s MVP despite missing much of it.

The ninth-ranked Gamecocks (11-2) took the lead for good on the final play of the first half, when Jeffery outjumped a pack of Nebraska defenders to catch Connor Shaw’s desperate heave at the 3-yard line, turned to his left and dived into the end zone for a 51-yard touchdown.

It was Jeffery’s last catch of the game, and perhaps his last for South Carolina. The junior is projected to be a first-round draft pick if he skips his senior year to jump to the NFL. He and Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, another highly regarded NFL prospect, were ejected after a third-quarter skirmish in which each delivered blows to the other’s helmet.

Before the ejections, Jeffery had dominated the matchup of potential first-round picks. He finished with four catches for 148 yards, his school-record 12th 100-yard game. If Jeffery’s career is over, he finishes with 3,042 receiving yards — 51 yards shy of Terrence Edwards’ Southeastern Conference record.

The Cornhuskers (9-4) scored on their first two possessions, but the offense subsequently stalled against one of the nation’s top defenses. Nebraska managed only 253 total yards — 89 in the first quarter — and drove into South Carolina territory only once in the second half.

South Carolina put it away with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns by running back Kenny Miles, who is considering a transfer to another school to avoid another season playing behind injured star Marcus Lattimore. Miles had only one touchdown in his career — a 22-yard run in 2009 — before he caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Shaw with 12:25 left and added a 3-yard scoring run with 3:05 remaining.

The game began on an odd note, as South Carolina blocked the extra-point attempt after Nebraska’s first touchdown, and Gamecocks cornerback Stephon Gilmore returned it for two points to make it 6-2.

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