In the days leading up to the 2012 Capital One Bowl, Nebraska columnist Mark Knudson talked plenty of trash about the University of South Carolina football team.
According to him, the ninth-ranked Gamecocks (11-2, 6-2 SEC) were overrated because they didn’t play Alabama or LSU this season (which is an interesting line of criticism considering USC beat the top-ranked, defending national champion Crimson Tide when they played a year ago).
Surprisingly, even after the Gamecocks’ 30-13 victory over the Cornhuskers, Knudsen is still talking smack.
“The Gamecocks are overrated,” he wrote following the game. “If they had played Nebraska’s schedule this season, they would have gone 8-4 at best.”
Really? That’s pretty tough talk considering how Nebraska managed minus-26 yards against the Gamecock defense in the fourth quarter – giving up four sacks (including three sacks on the Cornhuskers final three offensive plays from scrimmage).
That’s called getting overpowered … a concept the Big Ten has become intimately familiar with this holiday season.
Of course according to Knudson, “the better team didn’t win” (even though The Citadel put up more points on USC’s defense than Nebraska did). In fact Knudsen says that head coach Steve Spurrier’s team prevailed thanks to some bad calls from the officiating crew.
“SC got some big breaks from the Zebras – Why do you wipe out a clipping penalty that TWO refs threw their flags on, and then follow it up with a phantom pass interference call that GAVE SC a touchdown and a 10-point lead?” he wondered.
Apparently Knudson missed the fact that Nebraska’s secondary was holding South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery on virtually every play from scrimmage through the first three quarters … or that the Cornhuskers also benefited from a questionable pass interference call.
Anyway, Knudson’s explanation for the “questionable” officiating is that ESPN is conspiring with the NCAA on behalf of the big bad, SEC.
“Don’t try to tell me that the field isn’t being tilted that direction by all involved,” he writes. “The four letter network certainly WANTS the SEC to win every time and I think there’s been a mandate to that effect.”
Good Lord, man … that’s the sort of tin-foil-in-the-hat logic we’d expect to hear from somebody in Anderson, S.C. Or in Clemson, S.C., where rationalizations regarding the greatness of the SEC are also flowing freely.
Knudson does hold the Huskers partially responsible on at least one count – the “fight” between cornerback Alfonzo Dennard and Jeffery that took place in the waning moments of the third quarter.
“The Huskers lost their composure … easy to do against a cocky, mouthy bunch of no class ‘Cocks,” he wrote.
Really? Dennard threw at least three punches at Jeffery – whose only crime was to push Dennard back (once).
Of course after giving up this play to Jeffery earlier in the game … it’s easy to see why Dennard lost his composure.
Knudson also ignored the ultimate “no class” moment of the game – a brutal (and late) helmet-to-helmet hit on quarterback Connor Shaw by Nebraska safety Daimion Stafford that should have resulted in an ejection (and would have resulted in a major fine had it occurred in the NFL).
Look, Nebraska played the Gamecocks very well … at least during the first half. But as the game wore on USC simply took over – shutting down the Cornhuskers’ offense while Shaw and company put together a 13-play, 71-yard touchdown drive (led by a third-string running back).
Not even that convinced Knudson, though … or for that matter Cornhusker coach Bo Pelini.
“I’ll say it straight out—our football team, even after the game, we felt we were a better football team than (South Carolina),” Pelini said after the game.
Bo knows sour grapes, apparently.
If Pelini remains unconvinced that his team met a superior foe on Monday, then we invite him to consider what it would have been like trying to stop Marcus Lattimore on that last Gamecock scoring drive, not Kenny Miles.
Anyway, we’re sure it was frustrating for Pelini, Knudson and other Cornhusker fans to have to watch their season end the way it did – just as it was no doubt frustrating for them to watch Wisconsin, Ohio State, Penn State, Iowa and Northwestern all lose their bowl games, too.
We feel their pain. After all, when it comes to gridiron frustration, Gamecock fans have been there, done that (in fact, our founding editor still has frostbite on his ass from USC’s loss to Connecticut in the Pizza Delivery Website bowl two years ago).
Yet while the Huskers certainly have every right to take out their frustrations on USC during Gamecock fans’ moment of zen, that doesn’t make their logic any less loopy … or easily debunkable. And in light of the shameful antics displayed by Nebraska’s players during the game, Cornhusker fans ought to think twice before accusing another program of having “no class.”
Try as they might, Nebraska just couldn’t lick our Cocks … which is why we would invite the entire Cornhusker nation (and the whole Big Ten conference, for that matter) to enjoy a nice tall glass of Shut The F*ck Up.
Better luck next time, guys …