Shaw vaults No. 9 Gamecocks to Capital One win over Badgers
JAN 01, 2014 6:58p ET
1. MVP Connor Shaw picked the perfect time to post the game of his life
Forget that Shaw notched a season high in passing yards (312). Forget that he pulled off the hat-trick feat of at least one passing, rushing and receiving touchdown (five in all).
His dead-eye accuracy (completing 22 of 25 passes) and capacity for mistake-free football (zero picks) were the most impressive qualities from Wednesday's outing -- capping a splendid collegiate career that produced 6,000-plus yards passing, three 11-win seasons and seven total victories over uber-rivals Georgia (three) and Clemson (four).
It also helps that receivers Bruce Ellington (six catches, 140 yards, two TDs) and Shaq Roland (six catches, 112 yards) combined for five acrobatic receptions against the Badgers.
For good measure, Ellington found the QB Shaw (one interception all season) for a 39-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter -- the result of a slow-developing, but highly effective reverse pass option.
Simply put, Roland and Ellington were clutch performers on a day when the Gamecocks (11-2) accounted for only 117 rushing yards.
2. Wisconsin might have been better off giving the ball to Melvin Gordon and James White on every play
The above statement is made in jest, of course.
But in a parallel universe, it would have been interesting to see how the Badgers might have fared if their 1-2 punch tallied 50-plus touches -- especially with QB Joel Stave (80 yards passing, two TDs) exiting early with a shoulder injury.
To borrow an NFL scouting term, Gordon (25 carries, 143 yards) and White (12 carries, 107 yards) ran 'downhill' all day, consistently getting traction off edge blocks and collecting chunks of yardage on just about every touch.
On the down side, neither Gordon nor White found the end zone against South Carolina. Plus, the duo combined for only four carries and 10 yards in the red zone.
By some accounts, the draft-eligible Gordon (1,607 rushing yards, 12 TDs) plans to return to Madison for his junior season. But if he wanted to join the senior White (28 total TDs for 2012- 13) in the upcoming draft, no one could blame him.
After all, running backs only have so much tread on their tires, and Gordon (who dons a number 25 jersey) looks remarkably similar to Jamaal Charles when running off tackle.
3. Jadeveon Clowney was refreshingly low-key when confirming his NFL intentions
As part of ABC's post-game broadcast, Clowney succinctly offered two "Yes, sirs" to Tom Luginbill, after the sideline reporter/recruiting expert asked if this was his final college game ... and would he make an immediate jump to the NFL?
It was similar to when Stanford QB Andrew Luck concluded an ESPN phone interview two years ago with the ho-hum, rhetorical comeback of "Why wouldn't I?" when pressed about the speculation of leaving college early and eventually becoming the No. 1 overall pick.
Clowney's Columbia departure might have been the worst-kept secret in college circles, with his own coach (the inimitable Steve Spurrier) often alluding to Clowney playing in the pros or having enough money to pay for speeding tickets -- after the bowl game.
And looking at Clowney, who cuts a chiseled look in his 6-foot-6, 274-pound frame, you'd be hard-pressed to say his body and skill set aren't pro-caliber. Barring injury, he should dominate his positional brethren at the NFL Scouting Combine in March.
The Houston Texans own the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft, with the St. Louis Rams holding the second selection (via the Washington Redskins).
It's eminently possible that Clowney, a once-in-a-generation talent among pass rushers, could end up with either club -- regardless of the quarterback-prospect market.
4. The Badgers' turnover sins were too great to overcome against the Gamecocks
For the day, Wisconsin (9-4) coughed up the ball six times -- with one fumble, three interceptions and two turnovers on downs.
Digging deeper, here's how the Badgers fared on their final six possessions:
Missed field goal, turnover on downs, kickoff-return TD (Kenzell Doe), interception, interception, fumble -- with the final two errors punctuating a bitter loss that was, frankly, there for the taking.