Wisconsin Badgers(9-3SU,9-3ATS) vs.South Carolina Gamecocks(10-2SU,6-6ATS)
Capital One Bowl
Date and Time:Wednesday, January 1, 2014, 1pm ET
Where:Florida Citrus Bowl
byEvergreen,Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread:WISC -1.5/SOCAR +1.5
A BCS bowl game is where every team wants to be this time of year but the
Capital One Bowl is the best of the rest and this years CapOne features
a potentially great matchup between the Wisconsin Badgers
and the South Carolina Gamecocks.Both teams were in the
BCS conversation throughout the year so many of the talking heads have this
game as one of the best to watch based on the overall talents of the teams
and the individual talents that will be on display.These are two teams
that have few weaknesses and have the ability to impose their will on opponents
so it does look like this one will live up to the hype.
It has been an interesting betting history with this game as the Gamecocks opened as 1.5 point favorites in the early going but the late money has come in for Wisconsin and it is now the Badgers that are the 1.5 point favorites.Most online betting sites have that point spread but there are a few that have the game as a 1 point spread or a pickem.Wisconsin has paid as well as any team this year, earning nine ATS wins, ten if you bought them at 7.5 against Ohio State, and that record is prompting a pretty amazing 68% of the current action coming in for the Badgers.The over/under total for the game is set at 51 and that is a nod to the defenses as both come in ranked in the top-15 in points allowed.
The Big Ten schools have heard for years that they are too slow to match up the SEC talent and that might be true overall but Wisconsin has more breakaway speed at the skill positions than your average B1G team and they still have the size advantage as usual.Speed sometimes comes with the finesse tag but South Carolina sheds that stereotype and has solid line play on both sides of the ball with a smashmouth attitude that makes them a little more Big Ten than SEC, at least this year anyway.Record-wise this one is a matchup of the 3rdbest Big Ten team against the 4thbest SEC squad so its no surprise that this game is essentially a coin flip.
Wisconsin finished the regular season ranked 8thin rush yards per game at 283 per contest and that ranking improves if you take out the teams that run the option almost entirely but any way you cut it, the Badgers are coming at you on the ground.Melvin Gordon and his 8.1 yards per carry leads a trio of NFL level runners with James White and Corey Clement rounding out the best running back unit in the NCAA.Those three have accounted for 3,318 yards and 32 touchdowns with all three going over 100 yards on multiple occasions in the same game.South Carolina brings the 33rdranked run defense so that trench battle will be one of the keys to winning for both sides.Joel Stave has been boom or bust at quarterback this year as the Badger signal caller has played well at times but also missed wide open receivers on many occasions.If South Carolina can slow the ground game, Stave will need to make the throws to keep Bucky ahead of the chains and get the safeties to back out the box.Jared Abbrederis has somehow managed to produce game in and game out despite being the only receiving threat for Wisconsin.Abbrederis has 73 catches for 1,051 yards and 7 scores to lead the Badgers in those categories and he often faces double coverage.Jacob Pedersen has emerged through the second half of the regular season and provides a plus-matchup as a TE when covered by a linebacker.
Offensively, South Carolina is solid but not overwhelming.They are 29thin the NCAA with the run, 49ththrough the air and 32ndin points scored at 34.1 per game.They do it so quietly however that they have been overlooked on most occasions and their real strength comes in almost never turning the ball over.Connor Shaw is the better quarterback in this game and he is as efficient and accurate as it gets with 21 touchdowns to just one interception.Mike Davis leads the team with 1,134 yards and 11 touchdowns but will face the 6thbest run defense of the Badgers, led by Chris Borland.Shaw has more weapons to work with than his counterpart and uses all of them as six Gamecock receivers have multiple touchdowns.
Both of these defenses are very good but underrated as most NCAA fans see offense first, second and third but there are a bunch of NFL defenders on the field in this game.Jadeveon Clowney is the household name but injury and double teams have limited his stat impact this year, and it will be Clowney that is responsible for contain on the Badgers jet sweep looks.Kelcy Quarles appears to be the beneficiary of all the Clowney attention as Quarles has been able to rack up 17.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks.Twenty-two Gamecock defenders have at least one tackle for loss so this is certainly not a one man show.Wisconsin gives up 192 passing yards per game, which is good for 12thin the nation and also their worst statistical category as they are top-10 everywhere else.Borland is the do-it-all guy for UW but the 3-4 scheme has really been the star as very few teams have been able to figure out how to pass protect against it.Shaw does his best work from the pocket so South Carolina will have to account for the unknown rusher and keep Shaw from having to scramble to make plays.The Badger secondary was thought to be a problem spot but has turned into a strength and they have benefited from the front seven making the opposition put up bad throws.
You can tell me about all games that end 28-27 or 24-23 but I really see this point spread as irrelevant as I think the winner here gets it by at least a field goal.I guess Im saying that you shouldnt be afraid to bet the Badgers at -1.5 today and you shouldnt feel bad if you grabbed South Carolina early when they were -1.5.Historically, the Badgers have gotten more out of bowl practices than their opponents and have played well.They did lose the last three Rose Bowls but they didnt get blown out by Oregon as was thought and they had the ball with a chance to win or tie on the final possession in all three losses.I think Bucky adds a wrinkle here and there from Gary Andersens Utah State bag of tricks and they actually run right at Clowney to wear him down.Neither of these teams are ripe for getting blown out and both are coached extremely well.This really is a 50/50, especially if played out over and over but this New Years Day goes to Wisconsin.The Badgers have just enough speed to stress out the South Carolina defense and Stave makes the key throws he will need to turn this game.The Badger defense plays the bend, dont break to perfection and Sconnie gets a 27-21 win.
EvergreensPick to Cover the Point Spread: WisconsinBadgers.
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