The Capital One Bowl has long been viewed as the top bowl destination for the non-BCS teams from the Big Ten and SEC.
Officially, the Capital One Bowl gets the second bowl team from each conference. In reality, that works out to the top non-BCS spot for each conference, will this year will mean the Big Ten Championship Game loser and the third-place SEC team (or the top non-BCS team from the SEC).
South Carolina has been oh so close to breaking through to that first-ever SEC title for a couple of seasons now. And the wait will continue.
Since the focus in the SEC is single-mindedly on the BCS National Championship Game, anything less than playing for the crystal football is seen as a failure. But earning a spot in the one of the top-paying bowls in the nation is no failure.
With a $4.25 million payout, the Capital One Bowl was long the top paying bowl until surpassed by the Cotton Bowl Classic when it moved into Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. Still, that's a mountain of money, and the game is always hailed as one of the best non-BCS games of the season.
Neither South Carolina, nor Big Ten Leaders Division champions Wisconsin, should scoff at this opportunity.
Basically, all Wisconsin has to do to win the Leaders Division is not trip over itself—like losing to Oregon State.
That's the one pass Wisconsin will get. With Penn State and Ohio State ineligible for the Big Ten Championship Game, Wisconsin need only to beat Purdue, Illinois, and Indiana to earn a trip to Indianapolis.
But a third trip to Pasadena is out of the question. The Beavers exposed massive holes for the rest of the Big Ten to exploit, and Michigan State will find a way to knock off the Badgers again, this time in the conference title game.
Projection: South Carolina vs. Wisconsin