In head coach Gary Andersen’s first bowl game at the helm for Wisconsin, the Badgers ran out of steam as the game wore on, falling short in a 34-24 loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks in Orlanda, Fla. Wednesday.
Touted in the weeks leading up to Wednesday’s Capital One Bowl matchup as two-point favorites, Wisconsin’s offense had its way with the Gamecock defense throughout the first half.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Joel Stave orchestrated two drives of 71 and 75 yards, respectively, as running backs Melvin Gordon and James White averaged 5.7 and 8.9 yards per carry and the Badgers found themselves with a 14-13 lead heading into halftime due to a missed South Carolina extra point.
However that storyline would change in the second half.
The Badgers extended their lead to as large as four in the third quarter after a 47-yard drive led to a Jack Russell field goal from 35 yards out with 11:19 left in the third quarter.
Then South Carolina quarterback Conner Shaw took over, capping off the Gamecocks next two drives with back-to-back touchdown passes to Bruce Ellington and Jerell Adams, respectively. Just one drive later for South Carolina, Shaw would cap off his MVP award-winning performance with a 1-yard rushing touchdown of his own to stretch the lead to 34-24.
“He’s kind of their engine and he does a great job of extending plays,” linebacker Chris Borland said. “He doesn’t necessarily look to scramble, but to make a throw and he hurt us on that and a couple times later in the game. He played well. We were kind of disappointed about not being able to contain him better.”
Shaw finished the game completing 22 of 25 passes for 312 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Making things more difficult on the comeback trail for Wisconsin in the final quarter of play, Stave was forced to leave the game with a shoulder injury late in the third quarter. Wisconsin struggled to put together any scoring drives in his absence with sixth-year senior Curt Phillips taking over at quarterback. Phillips would finish with seven completions in 12 attempts for 37 yards, in addition to a pair of interceptions.
“We expected the backup quarterback to come back and Curt [Phillips] has been in that atmosphere before in big time games,” Andersen said. “I’m sure he wanted to play better. … We got into scoring position a couple times and obviously didn’t convert.”
Kick returner Kenzel Doe gave Wisconsin a brief glimmer of hope early in the fourth quarter when he returned a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown to bring the Badgers within seven. However a number of costly mistakes the rest of the way, including two Curt Phillips interceptions and a Melvin Gordon fumble in the final minutes, sealed Wisconsin’s fate.
Game notes: Wisconsin graduates 26 seniors this year. The 2013 senior class has lost all four bowl games it has played in throughout its time at UW, including three consecutive Rose Bowl defeats from 2011-13.