Can Badgers prevail in Florida?
I wasn't overly optimistic about Green Bay's chances to beat Chicago on Sunday, given the Pack's shaky defense. I'm glad, however, that quarterback Aaron Rodgers and receiver Randall Cobb returned from injuries in time to rescue their team and send it into the playoffs.
Now it's time to consider Wisconsin's chances against South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl at noon our time New Year's Day. I hope the Badgers play well enough to make it enjoyable.
From what I've read about South Carolina, it won't be easy for Wisconsin to emerge victorious. My wife and I were in the stands for that ugly outing the Badgers had against the Penn State Nittany Lions to close their regular season. The Badgers often looked confused on defense, and that was in stark contrast to previous games.
Similar confusion would doom Wisconsin on Wednesday. Gamecock quarterback Connor Shaw is a three-year starter who has thrown for 21 touchdowns against just one interception this year. He's also a running threat, complementing tailback Mike Davis, who has more than 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Gamecocks mix their offensive weapons well.
On defense, tackle Kelcy Quarles has 9½ sacks and 13½ tackles for loss, but fellow lineman Jadeveon Clowney could be even better. Some experts suggest Clowney might even be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL draft. If you haven't seen him in action, check him out this video of his hit on Michigan tailback Vincent Smith in the 2013 Outback Bowl. Yikes!
Two things, however, might tip the scales Wisconsin's way. First, the Badgers want to redeem themselves and send the seniors out in style after that embarrassment at Camp Randall's Senior Day against Penn State. Second, I have faith in head coach Gary Andersen's ability. He's a far better coach than predecessor Bret Bielema, who took his Badger teams to the Rose Bowl repeatedly but couldn't lead them to victory.
Do you think the Badgers will prevail? Why or why not?