Capital One Bowl
(19) Wisconsin vs. (8) South Carolina
The 19th ranked Badgers (9-3) failed to make the Rose Bowl for the first time in 4 years, however Gary Andersen's squad still finished up respectable. A controversial loss to Arizona State early in the year and inexplicable defeat at the hands of Penn State at home in the season finale relegated UW to the Capital One Bowl. The #8 Gamecocks also had higher expectations but a critical loss to 5-7 Tennessee cost the Gamecocks a trip to the SEC Championship game. Nonetheless, the matchup is one of the more intriguing and challenging in all of the 2013 Bowl season.
Joel Stave (199/323 2414 20 TD 12 INT) put together some impressive performances until the finale against the Nittanies where he was tested by a tough defense. He threw for 339 yards and 3 TD's but also was picked 3 times. Top target Jared Abbrederis (73-1051 7 TD) caught 12 passes for 135 yards but was kept out of the end zone. James White (209-1337 6.4 13 TD) not only is one of the more complete RB's in the country but can also make plays as a slot receiver (37-292 2 TD). Melvin Gordon (181-1466 8.1 12 TD) did most of his damage in the first half of the season and during a 6 game winning streak, however provides a dual threat in the backfield for the Badger rushing game.
The Cocks are led by Connor Shaw (158/259 2135 21 TD 1 INT) who holds by far the nation's best TD to INT ratio while also rushing for 511 yards and 5 TD's. Shaw's top targets include Bruce Ellington (43-635 6 TD) and Damiere Byrd (33-575 4 TD) who the last few weekends of the regular season used their ground game as their primary arsenal. He’ll be joined in the backfield by sophomore RB Mike Davis, the SEC’s 4th-leading rusher and the nation’s 30th-ranked rusher (194-1134 5.8 11 TD). On the defensive side, S. Carolina brings the nation’s 13th-ranked scoring defense, allowing 20.0 points per contest and junior DE Jadeveon Clowney, who had a subpar season with 36 tackles and 3 sacks, is this unit’s top next-level talent and likely NFL first round draft pick.
Wisconsin also excels at stopping the run, ranking second in the Big Ten behind conference champion Michigan State in rushing defense with an average of 101.3 yards allowed. Chris Borland‚ who has racked up 102 tackles‚ 8.5 TFL‚ 4.0 sacks and two fumble recoveries. Sojour Shelton paces the secondary with four interceptions and 11 passes defended‚ while Michael Caputo (62 tackles) and Brendan Kelly (7.0 TFL‚ 4.5 sacks‚ three FF) are also defensive standouts. Wisconsin's defense will be the difference-maker in this one against a Gamecocks' offense that lacks explosion.
The pick: Wisconsin -2.5 (2 gyros)
Totals lean: over 51