South Carolina was the first SEC team to kick off its bowl game so far as the underdog. Someone forgot to tell Connor Shaw and Bruce Ellington, who both took turns powering the Gamecocks to a 34-24 win over Wisconsin on Wednesday, wrapping up the third straight 11-win season for South Carolina -- the first, second and third such seasons in more than a century of playing football.
Shaw, in particular, spent the game cementing his place as the best quarterback in school history. He was involved in all five South Carolina touchdowns, passing for three of them, running for another and catching the other. (The passer on the trick play was, of course, Ellington.) Shaw was 22-of-25 passing for 312 yards and the three touchdowns, with a fumble his only mistake. He ends the year with 24 passing touchdowns and one interception.
Ellington grabbed six of those passes, sometimes with circus-variety catches -- for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Shaq Roland also ending up with a half-dozen receptions for 112 yards. Mike Davis' game was uneven, with 49 yards on nine carries, though that averages out to 5.4 yards a rush. Overall, the Gamecocks gained 438 yards of total offense against one of the best defenses in the country.
Their own defense had problems. Jadeveon Clowney was largely neutralized, though in part because Wisconsin sometimes devoted three (or more) blockers to try to contain him. Melvin Gordon and James White combined to run for 250 yards on 37 carries. South Carolina did come up with three interceptions in the game, though two of those came after Wisconsin starting quarterback Joel Stave was knocked out of the game with an injury.
For the most part, though, this was Shaw and Ellington's game. One of them is leaving the team after this season, and the other might be. But if this was the career finale for both, they went out with a reminder of why they are both so beloved among fans of the program they helped take to unprecedented heights.