Wisconsin-South Carolina Preview
South Carolina and Wisconsin both had BCS bowl aspirations.
They’ll play in the Capital One Bowl to determine which was better
suited for the bigger stage.
The eighth-ranked Gamecocks and 19th-ranked Badgers meet for the
first time on New Year’s Day in Orlando in a matchup of hard-nosed
teams with elite defenses.
“We’re not taking this game lightly at all,” Wisconsin safety
Dez Southward told the school’s official website. “This is an
enormous game. Just because it’s not the Rose Bowl, just because
it’s not a BCS bowl game, it doesn’t mean the opponent is not the
same caliber. That’s the case with South Carolina. They’re above
and beyond almost anybody we’ve played this year.”
The Badgers (9-3) have lost in the Rose Bowl the last three
seasons while the Gamecocks (10-2) are after a third straight bowl
victory after beating another Big Ten opponent, Michigan, in the
2012 Outback Bowl.
While Wisconsin moved the ball on the ground all season, South
Carolina could tip its attack more in that direction against the
Badgers after learning second-leading wide receiver Damiere Byrd
would miss the game. The 5-foot-9 speedster required arthroscopic
knee surgery after suffering an injury in practice earlier this
The Gamecocks concluded the regular season with a 31-17 victory
over then-No. 6 Clemson on Nov. 30 for their fifth win a row – a
streak that started with a 27-24 victory at then-No. 5 Missouri on
Senior quarterback Connor Shaw led an offense that didn’t turn
the ball over in the last four games of the season. The team had a
plus-15 turnover margin over the last four weeks after posting a
minus-4 mark through the first eight.
Shaw’s decision making was sound all year as he threw 21
touchdowns and one interception. He was also second on the team in
rushing with 511 yards behind Mike Davis (1,134) – the SEC’s
While Shaw and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney will play their
final game for the school, Davis, a sophomore, and many others will
“It’s pretty neat to go 10-2 with this team that was called the
youngest team in America,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier
said. “These guys may have achieved the most for such a young bunch
of guys that haven’t played all that much.”
The Badgers’ 3,396 yards on the ground ranked eighth in the FBS,
as did their 283.0 rushing yards per game. Their 6.6 yards per
carry trailed only Ohio State.
“They can run the ball pretty well,” Clowney told the school’s
official website. “They’ll try to pound it at us. We’ve got to be
ready to stop the run. I think they pass the ball a lot more than
you expect. They do a lot of play-action pass.”
There’s plenty of reason to believe the Badgers will be a
similar type of team next year after running back Melvin Gordon
announced his plans to return for his junior year earlier this
month. Gordon led the Badgers with 1,466 yards on 8.1 yards per
The date with South Carolina will be fellow running back James
White’s last as a Badger. The senior racked up 1,337 yards and a
team-high 15 total touchdowns.
Their hopes of displaying a dominant ground game on a BCS stage
came to an end along with a six-game winning streak with a 31-24
home loss to Penn State in the regular-season finale.
“I can’t sit back and say we had a bad week of practice, can’t
sit back and say I didn’t feel like we were prepared,” Wisconsin
coach Gary Andersen said after the loss. “I’m going to say it
again, I give a lot of credit to Penn State.”
Both South Carolina and Wisconsin feature big-name defensive
leaders. Clowney entered the year as one of the most-hyped players
in college football and drew as much attention from opposing
offensive lines as anyone. He ended an injury-plagued season with
just three sacks, but it didn’t stop South Carolina from ranking
second in the SEC in scoring defense (20.0 points per game) and
third in total defense (345.0 yards per game).
Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland was named Big Ten defensive
player of the year and a first-team All-American as the Badgers
ranked second in the conference in scoring defense (14.8) and total
The Badgers’ last bowl victory came in Orlando over Miami in the
2009 Champs Sports Bowl.