On Sunday night the University announced what everyone already knew: South Carolina had been invited to play in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando. The Gamecocks will be playing Wisconsin at 1 pm on New Year's Day. Outside of the BCS the Capital One Bowl is the most prestigous bowl an SEC team can attend. The success of the Gamecocks' season was validated by being selected by the first bowl that had a chance to pick them.
Some (many?) fans wanted to go to the Cotton Bowl, and those fans were vocal on twitter. I was one of those fans. Some worry that the stated desire for the Cotton Bowl means a lack of desire to return to Orlando. I don't think that's the case. The Cotton Bowl is something different from the Gamecocks' history. It's in a different area against a team from a different conference. Because the way Carolina has finished and the bowl tie ins, USC has played most of their recent bowl games against Big Ten teams in Florida. A change of scenery and opponent opportunity was attractive.
However, the Capital One Bowl is attractive as well. It is the best bowl that Carolina could play in, but it wasn't obligated to take the Gamecocks. The Capital One Bowl could have taken a few different teams, and historically, they've chosen the highest ranked team available to them. According to the BCS standings, USC wasn't the highest team available; Missouri was. The Capital One chose the Gamecocks anyway, paying the team and the fanbase quite the compliment.
The Gamecocks will play WIsconsin, a 9-3 B1G team. The Badgers finished 19th in the BCS and 6-2 in the Leaders division. The Badgers lost to two divisional champions, Arizona State and Ohio State, as well as Penn State. They lost by 2, 7 and 7 points. Meanwhile all of the games they won were by 10 or more points.
We'll have more this week and throughout December on the Badgers and the bowls generally.