No. 8 Gamecocks, No. 19 Badgers matchup in Cap One

It would be understandable if South Carolina and Wisconsin were

a little disappointed when they arrived in Orlando for the Capital

One Bowl.

Even after some early season setbacks, both teams had a chance

to earn spots in a BCS bowl game before coming up short.

But with a New Year’s Day matchup that on paper could be one of

the best among the non-BCS games, neither the eighth-ranked

Gamecocks (10-2) nor No. 19 Badgers (9-3) have had to search for

motivation this week.

That’s especially true for Wisconsin, which is trying to snap a

three-game bowl losing streak following three straight Rose Bowl

losses. The Badgers climbed as high as No. 15 in the BCS standings,

but had their season stunted by early-season losses to Arizona

State and Ohio State and loss to Penn State in their regular-season

finale.

”It’s tough. You definitely want to send the seniors out on a

high note. I haven’t won a bowl game so I’m anxious to get out

there and get a win,” said Badgers running back James White. ”It

motivates me a lot, and I know it motivates those guys (other

seniors) as well. With a new coaching staff, we definitely want to

get Coach (Gary) Andersen a bowl win in his first year.”

Andersen downplayed his first opportunity as Wisconsin’s to play

an SEC foe, but did acknowledge the challenge in facing Gamecocks

coach Steve Spurrier’s offense.

”When you mix coach Spurrier and (quarterback Connor) Shaw

together in their offense, it’s a pretty vicious weapon,” Andersen

said.

The Gamecocks enter their first-ever matchup with Wisconsin

having won two-straight bowl games over Big Ten foes, defeating

Nebraska in 2012 and Michigan in 2013.

They reeled off four straight wins following an early loss to

Georgia, but were then upset by Tennessee before ending the season

on a five-game win streak.

A lot of eyes will be on South Carolina junior defensive end

Jadeveon Clowney, who is projected to be a top selection in this

spring’s NFL draft should he decide to enter his name. He leads a

Gamecocks defense that ranked fourth in the SEC and tied for 14th

in the country, allowing 20 points per game.

”We were all wondering if he’s got a limo to take him out of

the (stadium) tomorrow or not,” Spurrier said. ”We were kidding

him about all the autograph seeking around there. Wait until after

the game and he can start charging for his autograph.”

Jokes aside, though, what hasn’t been lost on the Gamecocks is

that they will take the field as a 1.5-point underdog despite being

the higher-ranked team.

Spurrier said he mentioned it only briefly before the team

arrived in Florida, but it seems the slight did resonate.

”I just kind of take it as a slap in the face,” defensive end

Chaz Sutton said this week. ”For us to be the (higher) ranked team

coming into this game and be labeled as the underdog, we kind of

take it as a slap in the face as a team collectively because we

know what type of guys we’ve got coming to this (stadium)…and we

just feel like, you know, we deserve way much more respect than

what we’re getting right now.”

Here are five things to watch for in Wednesday’s Capital One

Bowl:

NEW FULLBACK. Spurrier said that starting FB Connor McLaurin

”cracked an ankle” during practice and won’t play. Starting in

his place will be walk-on Garrison Gist, with reserve RB Brandon

Wilds also expected to play.

SHAW SHOW. South Carolina QB Connor Shaw is trying to cap what

has already been one of the best careers in Gamecocks’ history. He

has battled injuries this season, but still managed to pass for

2,135 yards and 21 TDs.

BADGERS BACKFIELD: White (1,337 yards rushing) and fellow RB

Melvin Gordon (1,466 yards) had big years and helped make the

Badgers just one of five teams in the FBS with a pair of 1,000-yard

rushers.

BALANCED ATTACK: Wisconsin put up gaudy numbers on both sides of

the ball in 2013 and joined Florida State as the only teams

averaging more than 475 yards on offense and holding opponents to

less than 300 yards per game on defense.

FLORIDA BOWL SUCCESS. Wisconsin is 3-1 record in Orlando bowl

games, while South Carolina’s most recent bowl wins – the 2012

Capital One and 2013 Outback Bowl – were both played in the

Sunshine State.

Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at

http://www.twitter.com/khightower