Saturday was always going to be a day devoted to the Jesuit school down south. Any football watching was going to be devoted to the fact that we were going to see if Sparty wasn't going to screw this up for us by winning the Big Ten. But alas -- that happened -- and things changed. Now it's a date with an SEC team in the Capital One Bowl. Thanks Sparty!
But it still looks like we're going to face one of two teams despite the locking down of the location. We figure it's best if we give you a brief rundown in the form of a listicle so you know a little about each team.
Missouri Tigers (11-2, 7-2 SEC)
As one of the surprise of college football this season, Missouri's 27-24 loss to South Carolina means its pre-bowl season end has higher stakes. The 59-42 loss to Auburn definitely cost them a trip to a BCS game. But it may also mean that they could well miss the Badgers and go to Tampa instead of Orlando.
1. He may have missed a month of the season, but James Franklin's healthy time under center for Missouri has been very successful. With a 66 percent completion rate and 19 touchdowns against five interceptions, Franklin's had the type of season that makes him the sort of quarterback that the Badgers have struggled with all year.
2. Henry Josey leads the team in rushing with 1074 yards and 13 touchdowns. He will be the inspirational story you'll be sick of if the Badgers start struggling since his comeback from a severe knee injury in the Texas game in 2011 has gone so well.
3. They also have two giant receivers to throw to in the 6'4 L'Damian Washington and 6'6 Dorial Green-Beckham. 22 of their 30 touchdowns through the air have gone to these two dangerous pass catchers.
4. For such a high-powered offense, you might not realize that their rush defense is generally stout. Before the Tre Mason game (and yes Tre Mason earned that right), They sat 23rd against the run on a per-play basis. And of the three teams the Badgers might play, that's the best, by far.
5. In fact, the front four of Michael Sam, Marcus Golden, Shane Ray and "Stop" Kony Ealy has been so stout (52 tackles for loss, and 27.5 sacks between them), that right before Nick Marshall's gravy of 11 attempts and 132 yards to the Tre Mason game. Missouri's pass defense was comparable on a per-attempt basis with Alabama's.
South Carolina Gamecocks (10-2, 6-2 SEC)
Now the Gamecocks, like the Badgers didn't have a game of their own to deal with today. But Auburn's win and the Gamecocks' win against Missouri does allow for an opportunity to jump the Tigers for the Capital One Bowl. So we may see them either way our fates go on this.
1. As accuracy goes, Connor Shaw's fallen off (61 percent completion rate, 6.5 percent off the season before). But where has Connor Shaw been a proverbial Viking this year? In taking care of the ball: 21 touchdowns against just one interception. That's downright sparkling.
2. He also has his own James White to throw to in Mike Davis. A part of the reason that they were able to go into Missouri and get the win was Davis' 10 grabs for 99 yards, which kept several drives going.
3. Jadeveon Clowney has not built statistically on his previous season, with just three sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss, a huge drop-off from his 13 sacks and 23.5 TFL in 2012. But the defensive lineman that stepped up to help fill the loss, Kelcy Quarles, has 9.5 sacks and 13.5 TFL lead the team.
4. One way the Badgers have less to worry about in the Gamecocks offense? The receivers. Not to say that Bruce Ellington and Damiere Byrd aren't good athletes, but when our best corner is 5'9, having two 5'9 receivers to stare back at can only help.
5. The Gamecocks likely would have a decent challenge for Jared Abbrederis at cornerback in Victor Hampton. The 5'10 cornerback is rumored to want to make an early exit for the NFL and beating the dude that torched Courtney Roby would be a good start.
Long story short? Both teams would be good challenges for the Badgers. And Sunday, we'll find out just what exactly we're getting into.
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