With many of this season’s big name bowl matchups the disappointing result of politics and money rather than on-field merit, South Carolina’s trip to Orlando to face the Wisconsin Badgers in the Capital One Bowl on New Year’s Day promises to be one of the most interesting games of the 2013 post-season.
It’s the first-ever meeting between the two teams, both of which got the shaft in one way or another this year: Carolina somehow ended up ranked one slot behind Missouri in the BCS despite beating the Tigers head-to-head; Wisconsin was clearly robbed of a win over Arizona State after referees refused to spot the ball for a short field goal with eight seconds left on the clock.
The strengths and weaknesses of each team look to make for a classic New Year’s Day battle. Many armchair pundits see Wisconsin as a purely one-dimensional team that lives and dies by the run. This is an easy generalization to make with the Badgers ranked eighth in the nation in overall rushing and with star running backs Melvin Gordon and James White both averaging more than 100 yards per game. Obviously this kind of impressive achievement indicates extreme strength on the offensive line, but don’t overlook Wisconsin’s defense. The Badgers rank sixth in scoring defense, holding opponents (including five bowl teams) to an average of just 15 points a game.
Their strongest asset? They can stop the pass, ranking 12th in this category, which is exactly what they will need to do against Carolina, with Connor Shaw among the nation’s most efficient quarterbacks. But the loss of the Gamecocks’ number two wide receiver, Damiere Byrd, to a knee injury sustained during practice this week makes for an intriguing challenge developing here.
On the flipside, Carolina will have to stop the run. But that’s been a source of relative strength: Though the Gamecocks are ranked only 33rd in total rushing defense, against a tough schedule the Gamecocks have held opponents to just 142 yards per game, exactly half of Wisconsin’s average rushing output. This wide discrepancy is a clear sign that there will be a serious battle in the trenches. Who will win it? Well, Carolina defeated its two other Top-25 rushing opponents Missouri (17th) and Arkansas (24th), with its only quality loss coming to Georgia, which despite a strong running game early in the year actually finished with a better passing game than rushing game.
Another factor to consider is that while passing offenses have the ability to avoid feared defensive end Jadeveon Clowney by loading the line against him, teams committed to the run such as Wisconsin must attack the entire line in order to be effective. That slightly tips the scale in the Gamecocks’ favor.
So we have two fairly evenly matched teams going at it on New Year’s Day. Though Vegas considers the Badgers a very narrow favorite, trends would indicate a Gamecock victory, given that Carolina is at its historical peak as a program while Wisconsin has lost five of its last six bowl games. That’s not to say that the Badgers do not deserve to be there, just that they seem to fail when anything substantial is on the line. Meanwhile, with Spurrier at the helm and a group of great Gamecocks who know how to win — like Shaw, Clowney and Kelcy Quarles — playing in their last collegiate game and undoubtedly seeking to make a statement, it’s hard to imagine Wisconsin playing harder for this one than the Gamecocks. Of course, that’s without even mentioning the SEC’s recent bowl dominance over the Big 10. Gamecocks 38, Badgers 27.
Happy Hour and Sushi Specials All Week
Red Bowl in Lexington now has great early bird and late night sushi specials 7 days a week, as well as 99-cent kids meals on Saturdays! Click here for special information and hours.
Music Break at Music Farm Columbia
Join COR for an evening of networking for music and business leaders on September 3rd, featuring performances by Josh Roberts and the Hinges, Death of Paris, Fat Rat Da Czar, and Lazy A and the Green Thang. Free admission for musicians and members! Register here.
Delicious Downtown Breakfast
Tony’s is open for breakfast every day from 7:30-10:30! Conveniently located on Washington St. right off Main. Stop in for something filling and delicious before work! Follow us for updates on specials.
Accepting Applications for Shakespeare’s Kidz!
Students ages 10-16 are invited to join South Carolina Shakespeare’s new youth company, with classes running September 20th-December 11th followed by a final performance. Learn and hone audition skills, monologues, and scenes from Shakespeare and modern works! Contact Katie Mixon with questions about scholarships and applications: PKatieMixon@gmail.com.
Make Your Own Beer and Wine!
Come get started on your “liquid hobby” and help us celebrate our 46th year in the Columbia area. Bet Mar Liquid Hobby Shop: 736 St. Andrews Road.
Back to School Tattoo Specials
Magnum Ink is offering 1/2 off all tattoos for students over 18 as well as 2 for $60 on letters or numbers for state employees. 1405 Rushmore Road, Suite B, right off of Broad River.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Pool Cleaning-Full and part time available. Must have a clean driving record, be organized and have a professional appearance. Starting Pay is $10.00 per hr, please call for an interview, please bring a copy of your Driving record and a list of all past employers with duration of employment listed as well as telephone numbers for references. Cal 803-865-1200
Company seeking carpenters, plumbers, masons work is year around with a 40 year old company. Starting pay is $10.00 but experienced individuals will be compensated accordingly. Must have a clean driving record and must bring a copy of your driving record to the interview. Please call 803-865-1200.
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Real Estate Spotlight
Mungo Homes. Celebrating 60 years of our family building for your family. mungo.com