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Paul Battaglia, File, Associated Press
FILE - IN this Oct. 22, 2011, file photo, Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard looks on against Minnesota during an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011 in Minneapolis.. Dennard will end an up and down senior season in the Capital One Bowl against South Carolina.

LINCOLN, Neb. — Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard is looking for some validation as he enters the Capital One Bowl against No. 10 South Carolina on Jan. 2.

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Dennard earned All-Big Ten honors and won the conference's inaugural Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year Award. He was not, however, among even the 15 semifinalists for the Thorpe Award as the nation's premier defensive back.

Dennard said he figured he wouldn't win the Thorpe because he missed the first three games with a muscle strain in his right leg. But he says he's upset he wasn't a finalist.

Coach Bo Pelini said Dennard will get his due in April at the NFL draft. He is projected to be a first-round pick.