The Capital One Bowl: South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Wisconsin Badgers Pick-Odds-Prediction 1/1/14
Wisconsin Badgers (9-3) at South Carolina Gamecocks (10-2)
College Football: Wednesday, January 1, 2014 at 1:00 pm (Florida Citrus Bowl)
The Line: South Carolina Gamecocks +2 -- Over/Under: 49 See the Latest Odds
Storyline: The Capital One Bowl features a South Carolina team that came close but couldn’t quite crack the BCS code up against a Wisconsin side looking for its first postseason victory since 2009 after narrow defeats in each of the last three Rose Bowls.
The Breakdown: After opening the season with a decisive 27-10 victory over North Carolina, the Gamecocks followed with a 41-30 loss at then #11 Georgia that saw a combined 990 total yards. South Carolina would rebound with a five-game winning streak before losing its last game of the season, a 23-21 heartbreaker at Tennessee as time expired. The Gamecocks responded by winning their final five games of the season, culminating in a 31-17 win over #6 Clemson in the season finale.
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S. Carolina owns the country’s 34th-ranked total offense (453.5 YDs), its 51st-ranked passing game (248.3 YDs), its 30th-ranked ground game (205.3 YDs) and its 32nd-ranked scoring offense (34.1 points). The Cocks are led by senior QB Connor Shaw, who completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,135 yards, 21 touchdowns and 1 interception, while rushing for a second best 511 yards and 5 touchdowns. 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 with 1,134 yards and 11 touchdowns. 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, meanwhile, also had higher aspirations than the Capital One Bowl, but two early losses to Arizona State and #4 Ohio State all but ensured that the Badgers would not reach their fourth consecutive Rose Bowl. After a 3-2 start, though, Wisconsin would reel off six straight, including wins against ranked Northwestern and Minnesota teams before a narrow defeat against Penn State to close the season.
Thanks to the running back tandem of sophomore Melvin Gordon (1,466 YDs, 12 TDs) and senior James White (1,337 YDs, 13 TDs), the nation’s 12th and 17th best backs, respectively, the Badgers own college football’s 8th-ranked ground game. Sophomore QB Joel Stave has also gotten in on the action at a good clip, completing 61 percent of his passes for 2,414 yards and 20 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. His top target is senior WR Jared Abbrederis (73 REC, 1,051 YDs, 7 TDs). The Badgers also bring the FBS’s 19th-ranked total offense (486.8 YDs), its 91st-ranked passing offense (203.8 YDs) and its 26th ranked scoring offense (35.8 points per). Defensively, Wisconsin ranks 5th nationally in scoring defense, allowing a mere 14.8 points per contest and senior All-American LB Chris Borland (102 Tackles, 4 Sacks) is this unit’s stand out.
Rick’s Pick: The line in this matchup is currently set at -2 for Wisconsin with a 49 point total. This looks to be another bowl matchup where defense is the headliner (UCLA-Va Tech being the other), with Clowney and Borland likely to make some noise in their last collegiate appearances. But then you also have three of the nation's best running backs and two teams that average a combined 69.9 points per, making 49 points seem paltry and making the over look good.
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