Nothing changes in the dynamic between the SEC and the Big Ten. South Carolina always find themselves in a second-tier bowl game, and always come out with their hand on top, this time making the most of a brilliant performance by Connor Shaw to beat Wisconsin 34-24 and claim the Capital One Bowl for a second time in three years.
A 10-win regular season was once again short of enough for a BCS bowl in the very difficult SEC, but South Carolina seem to be on the verge of getting there, and it remains to be seen if the departure of two such meaningful players like Jadeveon Clowney and Connor Shaw is going to be hurtful for the program or will Steve Spurrier and the last couple of recruiting classes will be enough to make up for the loss.
South Carolina were in the lead of a tight game for most of the afternoon, but wriggled free in the final quarter, opening a 10 point lead thanks to a Jerell Adams touchdown catch and later on a Connor Shaw rushing touchdown. The senior threw an almost perfect game, completing 22-of-25 passes for 312 yards and three touchdowns, rushing for another. He was a perfect 7-of-7 on passes thrown more than 15 yards downfield. He mostly targeted Bruce Ellington (who also threw one touchdown pass), catching six passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns.
And how about Clowney? The projected number one pick in the next draft was on the field for 61 of Wisconsin’s 69 players, putting Joel Stave and Curth Phillips under duress five times durign the game. He batted down three passes in the fourth quarter, one of the leading to an interception, one of the three South Carolina had in the game.
I told the team before the game that we’ve faced every possible scenario we could possible face this season and that Wisconsin would be no different. I’m so glad the way we battled throughout the game and our defense came and played. I couldn’t be more proud. Before we even put the pads on, I thought we’ve only got 60 minutes and it’s over with. I’m going to be sad about it. I’m excited to move forward with my life.
Wisconsin did what they always do – run the ball. They finished with 293 rushing yards on 43 carries, the most South Carolina have given up since the 2010 season. Melvin Gordon ran for 143 yards and James White added 107. However, Wisconsin couldn’t get in the endzone through their running game, scoring their only offensive touchdowns in the second quarter off of Stave passes. They also enjoyed a 91 yard kickoff return by Kenzel Doe in the fourth quarter, putting the game back at three.
This is a fourth consecutive bowl game loss for the Badgers, coming off three painful visits to the Rose Bowl. For South Carolina this was third consecutive bowl game win, all coming against Big Ten teams. This was a decent first season for Gary Andersen in Madison coming over from Utah State, finishing with 9-4 in mostly close losses. South Carolina are still waiting for that breakthrough to once and for all put them on top of the SEC.