Capital One Bowl Preview: South Carolina vs. Wisconsin
South Carolina (10-2, 6-2 SEC) vs. Wisconsin 9-3 (6-2 Big Ten)
January 1, 1 p.m. ET (ESPN)
South Carolina Players to Watch:
Jadeveon Clowney, DE—Did you expect anyone else? When he wants to, Clowney is the most dominant player in college football. He’s the one defender that always needs special attention and his own personal blocking scheme. He can change the game with one play—just ask Michigan.
Connor Shaw, QB—Coach Spurrier has wanted nothing more than to get the best out of Shaw, and he finally got it over the last five games of the season. Shaw has 12 total touchdowns and zero interceptions during this time, becoming the game manager South Carolina has desperately needed.
Wisconsin Players to Watch:
Chris Borland, LB—The winner of this year’s Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Butkus Award, Borland led Wisconsin’s stout front seven with 102 tackles (8.5 TFL) and four sacks. He’s an outstanding leader and is always seen with his hat in on a play.
Jared Abbrederis, WR—Abbrederis doesn’t have eye-popping athleticism or body frame, but always seems to find a way to beat his opponent and get the job done. He leads the team with 73 receptions for 1,051 yards and seven touchdowns, combining for 22 catches against Ohio State and Penn State.
South Carolina Key to Victory:
Don’t be afraid to utilize Shaw in the running game. Spurrier has done his best to pound the pass-first mentality into Shaw’s brain, and the 6-foot-1, 210-pound dual-threat has started to catch on. However, his underrated ability to scramble and find running lanes out of the backfield could be the difference in this one. Wisconsin has one of the best defensive front sevens in the country, but had some difficulty containing a "90 percent" Braxton Miller when he left the pocket on pass plays. It’s been nice watching Shaw develop as a passer, but it may be time to let him loose.
Wisconsin Key to Victory:
A strong performance from quarterback Joel Stave. Yes, Wisconsin has arguably the best tandem of running backs in the NCAA between 1,000-yard rushers James White and Melvin Gordon, but South Carolina will likely be setting up in eight-man fronts most of the time—which is a scary thought, considering Clowney isn’t the only NFL-caliber lineman with his hand in the dirt. There is going to be a lot of one-on-one man coverage opportunities for Stave to make plays through the air, and he’ll need to do a good job going through progressions at the line.
Line: Wisconsin (-1.5)
Prediction: This is without doubt a battle of the trenches, so which side will be up to the task? You’d have to think that Clowney wants to end his collegiate career with a bang so that NFL GMs have something special to remember heading into draft preparations, meaning he could be poised to have his best performance of the season. Both teams have outstanding running games, but the combination of Shaw’s versatility and the health of tailback Mike Davis could prove to be enough to give the Gamecocks their third straight 11-win season.
South Carolina 21, Wisconsin 16
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