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The Capital One Bowl is set to be one of the best bowl games of the season featuring two teams that were right on the edge of making a BCS bowl. Both employ a similar brand of football with solid defense and top rushing games. The line has move around a bit, but recently saw the Badgers as -2 point favorites at 5 dimes and betonline.
The betting trends feature at sportsbook.com show that bettors favor South Carolina by a 60/40 margin and they also favor going over the total by the same 60%.
It's hard to see why Wisconsin received the early money, but they did after South Carolina opened as favorites. The news that SC's second-leading wide receiver, Damiere Byrd, will be missing the game may have an effect.
The Badgers had slim hopes of making a BCS game after winning six straight, but a final loss at home to Penn State threw out those possibilities. Many believed them to be a Top 10 team, one that lost at Arizona State 32-30 due to some poor refereeing. And then they lost at home to the Nittany Lions. Wisconsin finished with a solid 9-2-1 ATS mark (which is another reason bettors are on them), but its best wins were merely road games at Iowa and Minnesota.
Playing in the SEC, South Carolina has a much better schedule, which is why they are currently No. 9 in the standings with a 10-2 record. A road loss at Georgia early on hurt them, but the loss at Tennessee in October was the one that did the Gamecocks in. They still managed top wins against Missouri and Clemson, although close wins against UCF, Kentucky and Florida leave some questions.
It's going to come down to how good the South Carolina rush defense is. Can Jadeveon Clowney make a statement in possibly his last collegiate game? Or will the dominant Badgers rush offense gash through the Gamecocks?
The Badgers rush for a ridiculous 6.6 yards per carry as a team, with Melvin Gordon leading the way (8.1 YPC) with 1,466 yards and 12 touchdowns. Not far behind is the normal starter James White with 1,337 yards and 13 TDs. The passing game is the bigger question led by QB Joel Stave. If the game is competitive at all, Stave is usually asked to do more. In losses against Ohio State and Penn State, Stave tossed for nearly 300 yards in each game along with five touchdowns. The downfall was the four interceptions he also threw. Jared Abbrederis (1,051 yards, seven TDs) is Stave's main target, but will face some physical DBs for the Gamecocks.
South Carolina's defense has been solid giving up 20 points per game, but they haven't been all that consistent. However, they have clamped down a bit on their current five-game winning streak.
Wisconsin is a different story on defense giving up 31 points against Penn State in the season finale. Just how good they?
South Carolina doesn't have a lot of firepower on offense, but they do have a balanced attack that's tough to stop. Connor Shaw runs the show at quarterback where he has 21 TDs and only one interception for the season while battling injuries. He also presents a problem in the run game with 511 rushing yards and five TDs. With receiver Damiere Byrd out, Shaw will look to Bruce Ellington (635 yards, six TDs) even more, along with Shaq Roland. Running back Mike Davis is tough to bring down, but he battled injuries toward the end of the year and finished with only 22 yards on 15 carries in the final game. Davis had 1,134 yards and 11 TDs for the year and is supposedly healthy again and could be a problem.
It's going to be a fun game to watch in a battle that will likely come down to the wire.
The Badgers are 6-2-1 ATS in their last nine vs. a team with a winning record and have covered in four straight non-conference games. The Gamecocks have covered in four straight vs. a team with a winning record, but are just 1-4 ATS in their last five bowl games.
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