The Wisconsin Badgers were hoping that a change of scenery would change their luck, stop the bleeding and snap a three-game College Bowl losing streak.
South Carolina capital-ized on a couple of Badger miscues and some questionable play calling to pull away with a 34-24 win.
That earned a crystal football and the Capital One Bowl title for the Gamecocks on Wednesday, the first day of 2014.
Bucky, like several of their previous three losses in Pasadena in the Rose Bowl, was in this game.
Kenzel Doe’s 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown had the Badgers within striking distance, down 27-24 with 10:54 to play.
But Connor Shaw, Bruce Ellington and an offensively crisp Gamecock squad drove right back down Wisconsin’s throats on their next possession, reinstituting the double digit abyss.
It proved to be too much to overcome.
Curt Phillips was picked off on Wisconsin’s next best chance to score pretty much putting the issue to rest.
Phillips was in the game because starting QB Joel Stave injured his shoulder when he was leveled after taking off running on an earlier drive.
Stave missed several games last season with a broken collarbone, the same vexing injury that sidelined GB QB Aaron Rodgers for two months this year.
South Carolina receiver Bruce Ellington caught a pair of Connor Shaw passes for scores in the contest.
In a bit of trickery cooked up by the old ball coach for SC, Steve Spurrier, Ellington took an end around-cum-flea flicker and tossed a nine-yard TD to Shaw in the second quarter.
Wisconsin was able to run on the Gamecocks.
Melvin Gordon III and James White combined for 250 yards on several trips to red zone.
While Stave finished off two of those with short touchdown strikes, the rushing game got them into position to do so.
Stave’s 13th pick of the season, a fluke play that skipped off the foot of a lineman, gave the early momentum to the Gamecocks.
On the very first play after the pick, Connor Shaw threw a rainbow to Bruce Ellington for a 39-yard touchdown strike with 41 seconds to play in the first quarter.
A run by Melvin Gordon III and passes to Jared Abbrederis and Jacob Pedersen set up a first and goal from the one.
Stave rolled left and hit Sam Arneson for the equalizer with 12:45 ‘til halftime.
The high-octane offense for South Carolina went into high gear and methodically drove up field.
With a first and goal from the nine, a reverse turned into a receiver to quarterback pass for a score.
A botched hold negated a point after and it was 13-7 with 6:48 to go.
The Badgers went back to its bread and butter on the ground with James White racking up a couple of first downs.
Once in the red zone, the Badgers converted a fourth and one in the last minute.
Using the backs as decoys, Stave rolled right out of the pressure and found Jeff Duckworth sliding just across the goal line for a three-yard TD pass.
That made it 14-13, advantage Wisconsin, with 13 seconds left before intermission.
A 35-yard Jack Russell field goal after a solid drive made it 17-13 with three minutes and change into the second half.
The Badgers frittered away a golden opportunity to put more distance after Ethan Armstrong scooped up Shaw’s fumble and Bucky was in business in Gamecock territory.
The drive stalled and Russell’s field goal attempt went wide right, leaving the dooe open.
Spurrier and his methodical offense took the lead with their next opportunity and never ceded it again.
Doe’s return stopped, if only temporarily, the runaway train.
Shaw’s one-yard run with 6:27 to play closed out the scoring.
First-year head coach Gary Andersen ended up with a 9-4 mark.
It was a season that had more ups than downs.
But the downs, vis a vis the time management and loss at Arizona State early and the inexplicable seeming lack of preparation at the end of the year against Penn State at Camp Randall will be questioned for some time.
Now with Stave’s injury, the job of quarterback will be up for grabs again when spring rolls around again.