Record: 8-3, 5-3 Big Ten
Coach: John Cooper (13th season, 111-42-4; 193-82-6 overall)
Key players: RB Derek Combs (863 yards), CB Nate Clements (13 pass deflections), S Mike Doss (89 tackles, 12 for loss)
Season summary: OSU is back playing on New Year's Day, but Buckeyes fans look at this as another season that got away with their near-annual loss to Michigan. The problem has been inconsistency by second-year QB Steve Bellisari, wasting the talents of WRs Ken-Yon Rambo and Reggie Germany. But the Bucks do have two decent tailbacks i Combs and Jonathan Wells, and a stifling defense up front. Only four teams have rushed for more than 100 yards against OSU.
Record: 7-4, 5-3 SEC
Coach: Lou Holtz (second season, 7-15; 223-210-7 overall)
Key players: RB Derek Watson (1,834 all-purpose yards), DB Rashad Faison (13 tackles-for-loss), LB Kalimba Edwards (69 tackles)
Season summary: College football's biggest turnaround of the season began in earnest when the Gamecocks shocked SEC East favorite Georgia in the second week. Its confidence high, S.C. rolled to seven wins in its first eight games before falling short in a rough stretch against Tennessee, Florida and Clemson. The key has been not only a rock-solid defense, but a much-improved offense under QB Phil Petty. Utilizing a version of the ever-popular spread offense, Watson has become a bona fide star, and an offense that was barely able to get a first down last season has won seven games with virtually the same personnel.