South Carolina Football: 4 Things We Need to See in Capital One Bowl
South Carolina drew Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl, and the Badgers will be no easy team to play against despite the lowly state of the Big Ten.
This game will be a pound-for-pound heavyweight fight between two hard-nosed football teams looking to run the football. A battle for toughness will be at stake, where South Carolina looks to continue the SEC's prowess as the nation's top conference by taking down a stout Wisconsin squad.
With Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon and James White and South Carolina's Mike Davis, the ground-and-pound will be the storyline of the matchup.
In a game that is certain to have banged-up players and bruising from playing at 110 percent and landing huge hits, who will prevail?
Here are four things we need to see in the Capital One Bowl.
1. Jadeveon Clowney
The presence of Jadeveon Clowney.
The superstar defensive end will be playing in his final game as a Gamecock. While Wisconsin is not a pass-happy team, Clowney can make his final marks in the garnet and black by disrupting the run game.
Don't expect another signature head-popping hit by Clowney like the one he had against Michigan's Vincent Smith, but that doesn't mean Clowney will be rendered useless.
He may not have a lot to prove because he is already slated to be one of the draft's top picks, if not No. 1 overall. Though, Clowney does somewhat have a chip on his shoulder after being focused throughout the entire season by opposing offenses.
It won't be easy against Wisconsin, but Clowney is more than talented enough to alter the course of this game with a few big plays.
So bring it, Clowney. Gamecock Nation wants to see you go out with a bang.
2. Can South Carolina Contain Melvin Gordon and James White?
Wisconsin boasts a two-headed monster in the backfield with running back tandem Melvin Gordon and James White.
Both are explosive backs with speed through the gaps and power inside. Wisconsin pounds away at teams, wearing them down and breaking the big plays with exceptional running backs.
It's time to get dirty down in the trenches and blow up plays early by pushing back at the Badgers' burly offensive line.
The Badgers won't change their game plan because the coaching staff knows Gordon and White are the tickets to victory.
South Carolina needs its linebackers to contain the gaps and prevent Wisconsin's backs from breaking plays into the second and third levels or else it will be a long day for the Gamecocks' defense.
3. Can South Carolina Put Up Points Against Wisconsin's Defense?
Yes, I know Wisconsin plays in the Big Ten.
Yes, I know the Big Ten is a weaker conference these days, even though it pains me to say it.
But that doesn't mean Wisconsin lacks a defensive presence. Finishing sixth in the nation by only allowing 14.8 points per game is no easy task. I don't care who the competition is.
South Carolina cannot fall behind early because the stingy Wisconsin defense will be tough to put up points against.
Connor Shaw, the resilient proven winner, needs to power the offense with smart, efficient plays while also trusting in his receivers. The run game will be the early focus, but South Carolina has the opportunity to open the game with some passing and beat Wisconsin over the top. Big plays will be rare, but if the Gamecocks can gain some momentum from one or two big passes, it will go a long way.
Running back Mike Davis may take on a heavy workload if this game turns into a slugfest on the ground. Davis is more than capable of carrying his team to a win.
It may not take a lot of points to win this battle, but South Carolina will need a sharp offensive performance to compete for a bowl win.
4. Conditioning Superiority
The South Carolina defense is oh so much more than Clowney. And it is going to take a whole team to contain Wisconsin's rushing attack. The Gamecocks better get their workouts in now to prepare for a brutal showdown.
Defending the run breaks down a team by fatiguing the players by keeping them on the field. South Carolina needs to be in proper form and well-conditioned to outlast the Wisconsin run game. By the fourth quarter, these will be two tired teams. So, who will be the least tired?
The better conditioned team could be the one to win this game.
The Badgers slowly chew away at a defense, so defensive subbing will be a major factor in the game as well as stopping drives early. The more time South Carolina is on the field, the tougher it will be to win.
Wisconsin's defense also has the same challenge, as South Carolina's offensive line is a difficult bunch to go toe-to-toe with for an entire game. Badgers' linebacker Chris Borland won't break easily, and neither will his comrades.
But, like I've said, the team that shows signs of fatigue first is in for an intense uphill climb to come back and win the ball game.