What was projected and expected became reality on Sunday evening — No. 8 South Carolina will play No. 19 Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl.
“This is the best place for us to go, there’s no question,” coach Steve Spurrier said. “I know our players enjoyed it down there (the last time). There’s something to do all the time.”
The game is set to kick off at 1 p.m. on New Year’s Day in Orlando, Fla. It is the second time in three seasons that the Gamecocks (10-2) will play in the Capital One, and the second time this season that they will play in Orlando. USC defeated UCF 28-25 on its home field on Sept. 28, the only loss the BCS-bound Knights suffered this year.
USC will face the Badgers (9-3) for the first time in school history, and Spurrier also will face Wisconsin for the first time. Wisconsin, in its first year under coach Gary Andersen, finished second in the Big Ten Leaders division with a 6-2 mark. The Badgers lost to Arizona State, Ohio State and Penn State this season, with wins against Iowa and BYU.
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Andersen came to Wisconsin from Utah State to replace Bret Bielema, who left to take over at Arkansas.
The Badgers are averaging over 35 points per game while allowing under 15. They like to run the ball, averaging 283 yards per game, with 203.8 passing yards per game. Tailback Melvin Gordon leads the attack, averaging 122.2 yards per game and accumulating 1,466 yards and 12 touchdowns this year. Tailback James White rushed for 1,337 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.
“Very good team,” Spurrier said. “They could easily have been in that Big Ten game. They’re right there amongst the best up there. We got to get our run defense pants on, that’s for sure.”
Quarterback Joel Stave completed 199-of-323 passes for 2,414 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions this year. His top target is receiver Jared Abbrederis, who caught 73 balls for 1,051 yards and seven scores. White had 37 catches for 292 yards and two touchdowns.
Linebacker Chris Borland led the team with 102 tackles, 8.5 for loss, and had four sacks. Cornerback Sojourn Shelton led the Badgers with four interceptions. Wisconsin finished the regular season ranking eighth nationally in rushing and fifth nationally in total defense.
The game will reunite USC with Tanner McEvoy, a quarterback who transferred from Columbia to junior college after spring practice in 2011. McEvoy is listed as a quarterback and safety on the Badgers’ roster, and has played in 10 games. He has 24 tackles with one for loss, one interception and has broken up four passes.
“He’s an excellent athlete,” Spurrier said. “I’m glad he’s doing well at Wisconsin. I know a lot of our guys will look forward to seeing him in Orlando.”
Quarterback Connor Shaw said that he is still good friends with McEvoy. He hopes that each of them play well, even if McEvoy manages to intercept him.
“I’d try to make the play,” Shaw said. “They’ve got a winning tradition going on over there. I’m excited to play them.”
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