Monday, December 30, 2013
#19 Wisconsin Badgers vs. #9 South Carolina: brutally honest preview (thesportsbank.net)
Both the Wisconsin Badgers and the South Carolina Gamecocks finished the 2013 college football season a loss away from probable BCS-Bowl births.
Instead they ended up in the Capital One Bowl which is basically a consolation bowl game for two of the best teams in the Big Ten and SEC conferences.
Forget about the non-BCS label and everyone wins when you consider how enticing a match-up between the Badgers and Gamecocks on New Year's Day is.
South Carolina Gamecocks (10-2) Analysis: The Gamecocks regular season was marred by an unexpected loss at Tennessee. Other than that and a hiccup at Georgia, South Carolina has quite the resume with wins over six bowl teams. Two of their ten wins came at UCF and Missouri who are a combined 22-3 on the season.
The SEC's fourth 10-win team is fueled by a dominating defensive line featuring Kelcy Quarles and Jadaveon Clowney. Clowney has received a lot of bad press in 2013, but the Gamecocks still have the 13th best defense in the nation while allowing only 20 points per game. They've been particularly stout against the run, giving up 142.2 rushing yards per game which was the second least in the SEC this season.
Quarterback Conner Shaw has been resilient this season while playing through injuries and helping his team simply win games. Shaw has thrown only one interception compared to 21 touchdowns. South Carolina also has the luxury of a running back with 1,134 yards and 11 touchdowns (Mike Davis).
Wisconsin Badgers (9-3) Analysis: The Badgers didn't see nearly as tough a slate as South Carolina had, yet they still have wins over three bowl teams. Close losses at Arizona State and Ohio State prevented the Badgers from getting over the hump and becoming a national power in 2013. To make matters worse, a double-digit loss at home to Penn State wasn't the way Wisconsin wanted to end the season.
Wisconsin may have welcomed in a new coach this year, but they didn't shy away from their usual heavy run game as they broke school records with Melvin Gordon and James White. Gordon and White both eclipsed 1,300 yards on the season. It's not like the Badgers never throw the ball though as wide receiver Jared Abbrederis went over 1,000 yards to make Wisconsin the only team in the nation with two 1,000 yard rushers and a 1,000 receiver.
No matter the result of this one, Badgers fans should lock this game in their memories as it will be the last time they see senior linebacker Chris Borland suit up in the red and white. Borland was named the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year and he has an impact on every game he plays in. Wisconsin will also receive a huge boost from the return of safety Michael Caputo who was a big reason behind the defense's poor play to close out the season.
Brutally Honest Prediction: Wisconsin 20 South Carolina 17
Both of these teams are BCS-bowl caliber and are for sure underrated in the Capital One Bowl. Take away the label and you have a legit match-up of two of the better teams in the nation. The reason the Badgers will edge out the Gamecocks is because there are few teams who can defend the potent run game of the Badgers. Wisconsin's exceptional offensive line should be able to pave enough room for Gordon and White to break free in this one.
TV Coverage: 12:06 PM CT ABC; Davae Pasch (play-by-play), Brian Griese (analyst) and Tom Luginbill (sidelines)
Betting Lines: Wisconsin favored by 1.5 points and the over/under set at 51 points.
2013 Record straight up: 10-2
2013 Record against the spread: 5-7
2013 Record in over/under: 8-3
*no over/under for Tennessee Tech game
Last pick redux: Picked Badgers to win 40-14 over Penn State (they actually lost 31-24). Missed straight up and against the spread (UW -24.0), but luckily hit the over (49.5).
Do you think the Badgers will close out the season with a win over South Carolina? Let me know by commenting below.
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys sharing Fantasy Advice and pretends to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Pictures obtained from elevenwarriors.com and guardianlv.com.