--QB Connor Shaw got the ultimate praise after leading South Carolina to a 31-17 win over Clemson. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, a former Heisman Trophy winner, called Shaw the best quarterback in school history.
"He is the best quarterback ever," Spurrier said. "He's the best ever."
--RB Melvin Gordon certainly is one of several Wisconsin players thirsting for another chance after a frustrating performance against Penn State. Gordon led the Badgers with 91 yards, but it was the fourth time in five games that he was held to under 100 yards. Gordon shouldn't be getting tired, not with James White sharing the load.
--RB James White finished with just 56 yards against Penn State in Wisconsin's regular-season finale. White came into the Penn State game averaging 152.2 yards per game over his previous four contests. Playing in his final game in a Wisconsin uniform, White represents one of the key players to watch. If Gordon struggles, the Badgers will rely heavily on White to carry the ball.
--LB Chris Borland should get plenty of chances to make a difference. As the leader and heart and soul of the defense, Borland wraps up a stellar career against South Carolina. Borland has dealt with hamstring issues this season, but enters the bowl game with a clean bill of health. Borland was recently named the Big Ten Conference's Linebacker of the Year, then learned he was also named the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year after finishing with 102 tackles and 8.5 tackles for a loss.
BOWL HISTORY: Wisconsin is 11-13 all-time in bowl games and 2-0 in the Capital One Bowl, beating Auburn in 2006 and Arkansas in 2007. The Badgers have played in the last three Rose Bowls, losing all three. South Carolina owns a 6-12 all-time bowl mark, but captured two straight bowl wins over Big Ten teams. The Gamecocks defeated Nebraska and Michigan the last two seasons. South Carolina is making its second straight Capital One Bowl appearance, beating the Cornhuskers in 2012.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think we all strived at beginning of the year to get to BCS game, (but) it's very difficult to do and we won nine football games. It's a tremendous matchup for both teams I think. This is a great bowl game for us for so many reasons." -- Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen said.
NCAAF Team Report - South Carolina - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Scouting the running game: Wisconsin's bread-and-butter is the running game. The Badgers like to follow their big offensive line and control the tempo of games by wearing down teams with a devastating running attack. The Badgers average 283 yards rushing per game, with Melvin Gordon topping the team with 1,466 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. James White has rushed for 1,337 yards and 13 touchdowns. Although the two-headed tandem is one of the best in the country, Gordon and White struggled against an average Penn State team in their last regular season contest. The Gamecocks have to rely on their strong and talented defensive linemen to win the battle of the trenches and force the Badgers to beat them via the pass. South Carolina's running attack doesn't resemble Wisconsin's, but the Gamecocks have four runners with at least 200 yards. Mike Davis is South Carolina's feature back after rushing for 1,134 yards and 11 touchdowns. Quarterback Connor Shaw is capable of extending possessions with his running.
Scouting the passing game: This might be the area that turns out to be the difference in the game, especially if Wisconsin is unable to run the game with its usual strength. South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw is a gamer and lifted the Gamecocks to the No. 8 ranking despite dealing with an injury. Shaw has passed for 2,135 yards and 21 touchdowns, but doesn't make many mistakes with just one interception in 259 attempts in 12 games. Shaw benefits from a wide group of weapons to throw to, including Bruce Wellington, Damiere Byrd and Nick Jones. Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave isn't a flashy player, but gets the job done. The Badgers don't want to fall too far behind and be forced to rely on Stave to bring them back. Wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, a former walk-on, has been unstoppable all season with 73 receptions for 1,051 yards and seven touchdowns. But the Badgers don't have any other reliable targets for Stave, who has passed for 2,414 yards and 20 touchdowns, but has also thrown 12 interceptions this season.
Scouting the run defense: This is where the game most likely will be won or lost, aside from a possible influx of turnovers for either team. The Badgers shifted their defense to a 3-4 this season in coach Gary Andersen's first season. The move has worked out with the Badgers holding opponents to 101.3 yards per game and a paltry 3.2 yards per carry. The Gamecocks have played a tougher schedule and won some big games this season, so they won't be intimidated by Wisconsin's 1,000-yard duo of Melvin Gordon and James White. The Gamecocks can nearly match the Badgers, allowing 142.2 yards rushing per game and 4.1 yards per carry.
Scouting the pass defense: Coming into the season, Wisconsin's secondary was labeled the trouble area in the defense due to several inexperienced players. But Wisconsin's secondary has grown into a capable unit that has helped limit opponents to 192.7 yards per game. Sojourn Shelton is a perfect example of Wisconsin's youthful secondary. The freshman cornerback tops the team with four interceptions. Yes, the Big Ten Conference doesn't possess many high-powered passing teams, nor did the Badgers play a tough non-conference schedule. South Carolina's defense has picked off 15 passes this season and held its own against the likes of Georgia, Vanderbilt, Central Florida, Missouri, Florida and Clemson. Jimmy Legree, Victor Hampton and T.J. Holloman each have three interceptions for South Carolina. Hampton leads the team with nine pass breakup. Unless Wisconsin can run the ball, they might be in store for a long day trying to move the ball through the air against South Carolina.
Scouting the special teams: Wisconsin's season-long problems in the kicking game might come back to haunt them in a close game against the talented Gamecocks. Punter Drew Meyer is a weapon with six punts over 50 yards and 19 inside an opponents' 20-yard line. Kenzel Doe averages a respectable 24.2 yards per kickoff return and 7.2 yards per punt return but Wisconsin has yet to return a kickoff or punt back for a touchdown this season. One of South Carolina's areas that could have used some improvement this season has been the play of its special teams. Kicker Elliott Fry has missed just three of his 18 attempts, while punter Tyler Hull has been consistent with a 38 yards per punt average. Like the Badgers, the Gamecocks have yet to break a touchdown on kick and punt returns. The Gamecocks don't have a punt returner averaging more than 5.3 yards a return.
Intangibles: Anytime Steve Spurrier is involved, the Gamecocks hold a slight advantage over unfamiliar opponents. The Gamecocks have to be disappointed with their bowl bid despite beating a pair of BCS bound teams in Central Florida and Clemson. Is Clowney headline-making speeding ticket going to be a factor in his bowl preparation or availability for the game? Will Wisconsin, like Ohio State in the Big Ten title game, get exposed for a second time for being overrated? The Gamecocks managed to win 10 games against one of the toughest schedules in the country and quarterback Connor Shaw dealing with a knee injury in mid-October.
--QB Connor Shaw suffered a knee injury in the fourth quarter against Tennessee. Shaw should benefit from the extra time off for the Jan. 1 bowl game. He's been a battler all season, but really shown his toughness and determination playing through an injured knee.
--WR Jared Abbrederis had dealt with numerous injuries that potentially could have kept him out for an extended period this season but managed to handle the aches and pains. The Badgers and quarterback Joel Stave need a healthy Abbrederis to have any chance to beat South Carolina. Abbrederis is a crafty and talented wide receiver with a penchant for making big plays and not being intimidated.
--S Dezmen Southward had a medical procedure on his left wrist recently to fix a nagging injury. But Southward, a senior, is expected to be cleared to practice.
--DE Jadeveon Clowney's status remains uncertain for the bowl game after he was ticketed for speeding 110 miles per hour on a South Carolina interstate on Dec. 7. Clowney is perhaps the central piece to South Carolina's aggressive defense. Considered a possible high pick for the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft, Clowney was dealing with bone spurs in his right foot late in the season.
--RR Mike Davis is expected to be at full strength due to the added rest for the bowl game. Davis was hobbled late in the season with a ankle injury. Davis is an integral part of South Carolina's running game.