Yes, the Wisconsin Badgers run of three straight Big Ten Championships is over. However, they will be playing in the most prestigious non-BCS Bowl, the Capital One Bowl, where they will be taking on the SEC East’s second place team this season, the South Carolina Gamecocks. I actually think this could be a good thing for the Badgers that they are playing in this bowl game instead of the Rose Bowl. We know where the Badgers stack up against the Pac-12. This will be a good chance for Wisconsin to see where they stack up against the powerhouses of the SEC, who are both big and fast.
At the same time though, Wisconsin got lucky when they drew South Carolina in this game. Out of all of the potential SEC teams that could play in this game this season, the Badgers have the best chance against South Carolina. I don’t believe Wisconsin could run with the team speed of Auburn, LSU, Georgia, Texas A&M or Alabama, and I also believe the Badgers would have problems defending the wacky offense of Missouri. There is nothing secretive about South Carolina’s offense. Steve Spurrier has always been known as a pass-happy coach, but this team has turned into a physical run, play-action pass team.
If Wisconsin wants to win this game, they are going to have to figure out where South Carolina’s all-world defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is at all times, and do what so many SEC opponents did all season to the Gamecocks- run away from him. Clowney figures to go top five in the NFL draft next year, possibly even number one overall. They are also going to have to get after South Carolina’s senior quarterback Conner Shaw. When Shaw is in there, the South Carolina offense hums along with ease. I say when because he has had to overcome several injuries this season to be on the field in this bowl game.
If South Carolina wants to win, they are going to have to protect Conner Shaw and keep him upright. As I said in the previous paragraph, Shaw has already been injured several times this season, so they need to make sure they protect him well. Jadeveon Clowney is going to have to figure out a way to be effective in this game if the Gamecocks want to win. He has been criticized this season for sitting out games and not playing as hard as he can most of the time do to “injury”. He has been accused of protecting his NFL future with the decisions he has made this season. He needs to have a big game to silence those critics. At the end of the day, I think South Carolina wins this one close, 24-20.