#19 Wisconsin (9-3, 6-2 B1G) vs #9 South Carolina (10-2, 6-2 SEC)
The Capital One Bowl is one of the oldest and most prestigious of the non-BCS bowls. Originally known as the Tangerine Bowl, the game was first played in 1947 in front of a crowd of about 9,000 (which seems like about the number of people who watch some of the lesser bowls we have today such as the Idaho Potato Bowl). The bowl didn’t start out very prestigious, originally featuring matchups between schools in the South, the game often featured the Ohio Valley Conference champion and other small colleges though major schools would occasionally feature in the game. Being in the South, the bowl followed along the racist trends of the region at that time and prohibited African Americans from participating in the game. This resulted in boycotts of the game by Hillsdale in 1955 and Buffalo in 1958; Morgan State would become the first historically black college to play in the game in 1966.
From 1968 to 1975 the Tangerine Bowl featured the MAC champion versus the champion of the Southern Conference or the SEC. As time went on the game began to feature more prestigious matchups as the major conference began to allow more of their teams to play in bowl games. Renamed the Citrus Bowl in 1983, the game jumped a lot in prestige as it signed an agreement to pit the ACC champion against an at-large opponent from 1987 to 1991. Its prestige grew even more after the 1991 game which saw Georgia Tech defeat Nebraska to finish 11-0-1 and be named the national champion by UPI.
Renamed as the Capital One Bowl in 2003, marking the start of the bowls completely selling out on naming rights, the game now features a matchup between the Big Ten and the SEC, earning the first pick of teams from each conference after the BCS games. The game is played at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando. Over the past decade the stadium has drawn a lot of criticism due to its poor condition and lack of modern facilities which likely resulted in it not being included in the upcoming college football playoff system. After years of delays and debate, the stadium will finally undergo an almost complete reconstruction in 2014.
Ohio State has appeared in the Capital One Bowl four times, all of which when the game was known as the Citrus Bowl. The Buckeyes first appearance in the game was on December 28th, 1985 when the #17 Buckeyes defeated #9 BYU 10-7. Unfortunately that would be the only win for OSU in the bowl as their other three appearances would see them square off against SEC teams and we all know how OSU’s bowl record against that conference has gone. On New Year’s Day 1993, 8th ranked Georgia defeated 15th ranked Ohio State 21-14. In 1995 sixth ranked Alabama knocked off thirteen ranked OSU 24-17 and the following year #3 Tennessee took out #4 OSU 20-14.
South Carolina Scouting Report: Starting out the season ranked in the top ten, there was some talk that this could finally be the South Carolina team that would get Steve Spurrier another national championship. A week 2 loss to Georgia seriously endangered those national title hopes and the hopes officially died following a late October loss to Tennessee. The Gamecocks bounced back strong from the loss to the Volunteers though, upsetting then #5 Missouri the following week to start a five game winning streak which would culminate with an upset of hated rival Clemson who was ranked 6th at the time.
South Carolina is led by quarterback Connor Shaw who has been the best QB that Spurrier has had at USC. Shaw passed for over 2,000 yards and 21 touchdowns this season with a 61% completion percentage. Shaw also posses the ability to run with the ball, rushing for 500 yards and 5 touchdowns. The Gamecocks possess a balanced offense thanks to running back Mike Davis who tallied over 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns while averaging 5.8 yards per carry.
The Gamecocks possess a solid run defense though teams have been able to have some success on the ground against them, as demonstrated by Georgia at the start of the season. South Carolina’s pass defense is much better, limiting opponents to only 200 yards through the air per game and more importantly, coming up with 18 interceptions on the season. Of course no discussion of the South Carolina defense is complete without mentioning Jadeveon Clowney, someone who should be dear to the hearts of Buckeye fans due to what he did in the bowl game last year (see below). While Clowney has gotten a lot of criticism this season for his numbers being down and his supposed taking it easy to keep himself safe for the NFL, he is still a force to be reckoned with and part of the reason his numbers are down is that opponents game plan to avoid him.
Buckeye Connection: Ohio State and South Carolina have only met twice, in the 2001 and 2002 Outback Bowls and the Gamecocks came away with the victory in both occasions. Urban Meyer does own Steve Spurrier though, only losing to Spurrier’s Gamecocks once during his time at Florida.
Wisconsin Scouting Report: After an early season ‘loss’ to Arizona State thanks to poor officiating and a close loss against Ohio State, Wisconsin rallied and put together a 6 game winning streak that had people talking about a possible BCS bid for the Badgers. Any BCS hopes died in the season finale though when Penn State shocked Wisconsin in Madison.
As always Wisconsin is a physical, run first team and are led by two running backs, Melvin Gordon and James White, who each have over 1,000 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns this year. Gordon and White were excellent pretty much all year but struggled against Penn State in the season finale so it will be interesting to see how they bounce back from that. Wisconsin’s passing game isn’t nearly as impressive as their ground game but quarterback Joel Stave is reliable player and wide receiver Jared Abbredaris is as dangerous as any receiver in the country.
Defensively the Badgers are very solid as always, holding opponents to only 101 yards per game on the ground and 193 through the air. Special teams could be a problem for Wisconsin though as the Badger’s kicking game was problematic for most of the season which could come back to bite them in a close game.
Buckeye Connection: Since their first meeting in 1913, Ohio State and Wisconsin have faced off 79 times with the Buckeyes holding a decisive 56-18-5 overall record in those meetings. Wisconsin’s rise to a Big Ten power in the 90s has led to some epic meetings between the two teams in recent years but OSU still has come out on top the majority of the time, going 8-4 against the Badgers since 2000.
Predictions: This should be a close game with some intriguing matchups. Wisconsin’s powerful running game is amazingly difficult to stop and will present a strong challenge to a South Carolina defense that isn’t used to seeing such a physical opponent in the SEC. Abbredaris is amazingly dangerous whenever he touches the ball and the Gamecocks will need to do what they can to deny him touches while still focusing on stopping the run game. Fortunately for the Gamecocks, Wisconsin’s passing game isn’t as impressive and South Carolina will be able put some extra people in the box.
On the other side of the ball, South Carolina’s balanced offensive attack will force Wisconsin’s defense to stay honest. The Badgers will likely limit South Carolina’s run game so the pressure will be on quarterback Connor Shaw to generate offense for the Gamecocks and he has looked up to the task most of the season.
Predictions: Here’s what we think will happen:
I expect this to be a close game but in the end Wisconsin’s powerful running game, finally combined with a coach who is smart enough to stick to using it, will be the difference as it wears down South Carolina’s defense over the course of the game.