Melvin Gordon of the Wisconsin Badgers
I had another opportunity last week to talk with scout Chris Landry about a couple of things on the Steve Duemig show. Chris is one of best in the business in terms of evaluating talent in both college football and the NFL.
I asked Chris about the matchup between the 9-3 Wisconsin Badgers and the 10-2 South Carolina Gamecocks in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Florida. The Badgers are ranked 19th in the BCS standings, while the Gamecocks are ranked ninth.
I specifically asked about the matchup between the big offensive line of the Badgers versus the very talented defensive line of the Gamecocks.
I think the Capital One Bowl will be very good. Certainly South Carolina's defensive line is very good and very quick. They've got an edge there from a quickness standpoint. Wisconsin wants to run the football right at South Carolina trying to wear them down and try to play the run, and try to slow down their pass rush so they can have an opportunity to hit (Jared) Abbrederis deep on some play passes.
Landry also talked about how physical the game will be and why the Badgers should not overlook Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks.
I think it ought to be a real good game. I think it will be physical. I do like the fact that Wisconsin and the Big Ten teams are coming in and playing with an edge a little bit, wanting to prove that their really good (versus the SEC). I don't think that South Carolina under Steve Spurrier is the type of team that typically overlooks or plays disinterested in bowl games like this. It's always an edge to him. Particularly with him and the quarterback Connor Shaw. I think they (Wisconsin) are going to get South Carlina's best effort here.
Landry is spot on with Shaw, who threw 21 touchdown passes in 2013 for the Gamecocks, compared to just one pick. Shaw has an edge on his counterpart at Wisconsin, Joel Stave, who has been inconsistent this season, especially on his deep throws.
Stave did throw 20 touchdown passes this season for the Badgers, but also threw 12 picks.
As Chris said, the Badgers are a running football team, and there is ample evidence for that. Both Melvin Gordon (1,466 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns) and James White (1,337 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns) have been terrific running the ball for Wisconsin.
Stave has some nice weapons when he passes the ball, namely wide receiver Jared Abbrederis (73 receptions for 1,051 yards and seven touchdowns) and tight end Jacob Pedersen (36 catches for 503 yards and three touchdowns). White is also used a lot as a receiver, as he has 37 receptions for 292 yards and two touchdowns.
The whole offense is predicated by the excellent play by the big offensive line of the Badgers.
Overall the Badgers are ranked 19th in total offense in the country, including eighth in the nation in running the football.
The 18th-ranked South Carolina defense is led by their talented defensive line led by Jadeveon Clowney and Kelcy Quarles.
Stave needs to be careful throwing the ball, as both Victor Hampton and Jimmy Legree have three picks apiece at cornerback.
The South Carolina offense is ranked is ranked 34th, which is led by Shaw on the passing game. Shaw likes to utilize wide receiver's Bruce Ellington and Damiere Byrd in the passing game, and the two have combined for 76 receptions for 1,210 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The running game is led by running back Mike Davis, who has rushed for 1,134 yards and 11 touchdowns. Shaw has also run for 511 yards and five scores.
The Gamecocks will be facing the sixth-ranked (nationally) Wisconsin defense, led by linebacker Chris Borland.
The Badgers are ranked fifth in the nation in stopping the run, while they are ranked 12th in the country in stopping the pass.
The edge in the kicking game has to go to the Gamecocks, as kicker Elliot Fry has made 15-of-18 field goals this year.
The Badgers meanwhile, have Jack Russell as their kicker—he is five-of-eight on field goals after taking over for Kyle French earlier in the year.
Bottom line, this should be a great game as the Badgers will try and win their third Capital One Bowl in three tries, this time under first-year head coach Gary Andersen.
The Badgers won the 2006 Capital One Bowl under Barry Alvarez, when they defeated Auburn 24-10, and also won the 2007 Capital One Bowl under Bret Bielema, when they beat Arkansas 17-14.