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Capital One Bowl: Can South Carolina handle Wisconsin’s one-two punch at running back?

Sam Cooper
Dr. Saturday

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Connor Shaw will pose a challenge for Wisconsin through the air and on the ground (USA Today Sports)

Capital One Bowl
South Carolina vs. Wisconsin
Orlando, Fla.
Jan. 1, 2014

South Carolina (10-2) and Wisconsin (9-3) both had its sights set on a BCS bowl but came up just short. With ten and nine wins respectively, though, both teams had solid campaigns.

The two schools have never met, adding to the intrigue of a matchup featuring two very accomplished rushing attacks. The Badgers feature two running backs that eclipsed 1,300 yards rushing, giving them the country’s best one-two punch. Melvin Gordon, who recently announced he’d return to Wisconsin for his junior year, gained 1,466 yards and 12 touchdowns on a whopping 8.1 yards per carry. James White also scored 12 touchdowns while racking up 1,337 yards.

Badgers quarterback Joel Stave struggled at times, but if he can get the ball into the hands of playmaking receiver Jared Abbrederis and avoid interceptions, he’ll be in good shape.

The opposing South Carolina offense has several playmakers as well, but most importantly, the Gamecocks did not turn the ball over in their final four games. Connor Shaw can beat you through the air and on the ground, or he can hand the ball off to running back Mike Davis, who gained 1,134 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.

Shaw and Gamecock defensive end Jadeveon Clowney will be playing in their final game for the Gamecocks. Clowney and the South Carolina defense, who gave up just 20 points per game on the year, will need to be at the top of its game to contain the Wisconsin rushing attack. The Wisconsin defense, featuring linebacker Chris Borland, is no slouch either, giving up just 14.8 points per game – good for fifth best in the nation.

MASCOT FIGHT

Those gamecocks can get pretty feisty but I’d like to think a badger can develop a bit of a mean streak in its own right. This is a tough one, but gamecocks seem more inclined to fight by nature. I’ll go with the gamecocks.

PREDICTIONS

Graham: South Carolina 24, Wisconsin 18. This is a tough game to pick because both of these teams are pretty evenly matched. But South Carolina's balanced attack, led by dual-threat quarterback Connor Shaw, will be the difference in this one. I think South Carolina gets a late score to win.

Nick: South Carolina 19, Wisconsin 17. Mike Davis vs. Melvin Gordon may be the best off-the-radar running back matchup of the bowl season. Connor Shaw makes the difference, however. Oh, and you can safely bet that Jadeveon Clowney will not have a moment like he did last year against Michigan in the Outback Bowl. But that moment will be played a few times. At least.

Sam: South Carolina 24, Wisconsin 23. Wisconsin got away from its running game when it fell in its final game to Penn State, so I think they’ll really go back to their bread and butter – pounding the football. South Carolina is a young team, but Connor Shaw always seems to find a way to win. He threw just one interception this year, so he won’t make a costly mistake, Joel Stave has thrown 12, so if he has to air it out for a chance for the Badgers to win, I give the edge to South Carolina.


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