It's been a while, eh? It's been about a month since we've had a game. And with the dead period, it's been kind of quiet in regards to news and views. I know I kind of went off on the recruiting. But friends, the crappy Wisconsin weather isn't the only reason to stay in New Year's morning and watch the Capital One Bowl. Everyone thinks this is going to be a good one.
And there's little reason to disagree. I mean, first of all, the lesson of a bowl game where there's a long layoff between the last game and the bowl game? Offenses start slowly. Not to say that its a catch-all, but if you wake up at 1 p.m. CT on New Year's Day, you might not miss a thing.
What does that mean for you? For one, it means I'm going to make fun of you if you panic because of a slow start. I love you and I thank you for your patronage, but if it's 6-0 in the second and you do an anybody but Joel Stave, you will be mocked.
(Offer of mockery void after halftime.)
But in all seriousness, this is one of those things that makes me believe we're going to strap in and expect a full game's worth of battle. I mean, the Badgers' defense should be at full strength with Michael Caputo back and seeking redemption for getting got by Penn State. Connor Shaw and Mike Davis can run pretty well, but this is the sort of game where the senior-laden front seven looks to put up a defense worthy of a top-10 rush defense ranking. After all, South Carolina has had trouble with Clemson and Missouri in the run game. And the Badgers are categorically better, at least by the numbers.
Passing-wise? This seems like a good match-up. The sweet irony of Tanner McEvoy playing safety aside, the Badgers can physically match-up with the size of Bruce Ellington and Damiere Byrd. Maybe the athleticism allows the Gamecocks to get one over the top. I mean, Shaq Roland's come on quickly (10 catches for 178 yards and four scores in November). But the Badgers have had the most trouble with teams that have tall receivers. In that respect, South Carolina's going to have a difficult time. Though when you add Shaw's mobility to the cause, there's a chance they'll surpass the gut feeling. But I think the Badgers will hang through the air.
That being said, while Jadeveon Clowney (and a pox for getting this far without mentioning him) is a defender of star quality, the defense has performed well with little more than Kelcy Quarles and youth. A team that runs well will usually find success. Some decent running games (your Georgias and Mississippi States of the world) have had good run to them. Heck, even Florida in November had some success. But the Gators are no pushovers.
Through the air, Stave should have chances for success. If Wisconsin can keep Cloweny from doing Heisman Jadeveon Clowney things to him, South Carolina's pass defense ballhawks well (13 interceptions), but you can make plays on it (it's on the 7-yards-per-play mendoza line). Jared Abbrederis could do some major things, and I wouldn't doubt we see Jacob Pedersen and James White contribute as well.
Long story short, this feels like one of games that's going to live up to the "BEST OF THE NOT BCS" sheen. You know, such as it is. The Badgers can match with the Gamecocks physically. It may come down to the adjustments. It may come down to a field goal.
But it's going to come down to the wire.
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- Wisconsin vs. Alabama-Huntsville recap: Badgers find way to win ugly