After a tough season, the South Carolina Gamecocks are most likely unhappy with their position in the 2014 Capital One Bowl. Although they are facing a solid opponent, it was the goal before the season to take the next step and try to make a national title game.
The Wisconsin Badgers were just one upset loss and one controversial loss away from contending for a BCS bowl game, however, their season didn’t go quite as planned. Sitting at 9-3, the Badgers will take their first step in the right direction in the post-Bret Bielema era.
South Carolina has one of the best quarterbacks and leaders in the nation in Connor Shaw who has passed for 2,135 yards and 21 touchdowns, hitting Bruce Ellington 43 times for 635 yards and six touchdowns. Damiere Byrd is not too far behind with 33 catches for 575 yards and four touchdowns on the season. Don’t sleep on the run game as Mike Davis might be one of the best running backs in the nation, rushing for 1,134 yards and 11 touchdowns with seven 100-yard rush games on the year.
Wisconsin has one of the best rushing attacks in the nation with possibly the best one-two running back combinations out there. While the program lost a gem in Montee Ball from the 2012 team, they have recovered nicely as James White and Melvin Gordon have led the eighth-best rushing offense in the nation. White has 1,337 yards and 13 touchdowns on 6.4 yards per carry while Gordon has 1,466 yards and 12 touchdowns on 8.1 yards per carry. Joel Stave has led the team at quarterback, passing for 2,414 yards and 20 touchdowns while hitting Jared Abbrederis 73 times for 1,051 yards and seven scores.
Defensively, South Carolina has been one of the best teams in the SEC this season. When you have Jadeveon Clowney on your defense, you are bound to be solid. The Gamecocks rank 14th in points allowed per game as well as 19th in yards allowed per game. Wisconsin also has one of the best defenses in the nation, ranking sixth in points allowed per game and eighth in yards allowed per game.
Wisconsin and South Carolina will face off in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla., at 1 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Jan. 1. The game will be broadcasted on ABC.
PREDICTION: Wisconsin 28, South Carolina 31
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at email@example.com.