PHOTO: USA Today Sports
South Carolina (10-2) vs Wisconsin (9-3)
Wed, Jan 1st @ 1 PM (ABC)
Line: Wisconsin by 1.5
How South Carolina got here: The Gamecocks were one win (a two-point upset loss to the Vols) away from playing in the SEC Championship Game against Auburn for the right to play for the National Championship. The Gamecocks have been a bit under the radar this year but they were that close to getting that shot. The only blips on their schedule were an 11 point road loss to a then healthy UGA and the 2 point road loss to Tennessee. South Carolina went 2-1 against Top 25 teams this year beating Missouri and Clemson.
How Wisconsin got here: The Badgers started out the season 3-2 with a controversial loss at Arizona State and a 7 point loss to Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes. Then they ripped off six straight wins including victories over bowl-bound Iowa, BYU and Minnesota. They finished the season in disappointing fashion losing to Penn State.
For South Carolina to win: Wisconsin does a good job stopping the run (giving up just 3.2 ypc) so the Gamecocks need to utilize both Mike Davis and QB Connor Shaw in the running attack and make the Badgers respect the fact that Shaw can use his feet. When the Badgers have the ball, they are going to want to pound the rock (they averaged 6.61 ypc this season). The Gamecocks front seven needs to win the battle at the line of scrimmage, not give up the big play on the ground and make the Badgers QB beat them.
For Wisconsin to win: Win the battle at the line of scrimmage on offense so they can open up the field for Joel Stave. They need to make Gamecocks star Jadeveon Clowney work. Run the ball away from him and tire him out and get him winded and then run it right at him. On defense, they have to contain Gamecocks RB Mike Davis. Davis can pop the big play and the Badgers can't afford to let that happen.
Key Player (South Carolina): Connor Shaw, QB. This will be Jadeveon Clowney's last game, but the player they will miss more is their QB. Shaw is the heart and soul of this team and has grown leaps and bounds from when he got on campus. If you have any doubt about Shaw, just go back and watch the second half of the Mizzou game.
Key Player (Wisconsin): Chris Borland, LB. Like Shaw, this will be Borland's final game and he's going to want to go out a winner. They don't give out the Big Ten Player of the Year to just anybody and Borland will be the player to watch for Wisconsin.
Key Stat: The Badgers haven't won a bowl game since 2009, when they topped Miami in the Champs Sports Bowl, and they are just 1-5 in their last six bowls.