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
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
”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
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
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
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
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