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January 1, 2014

Game balls, Capital One Bowl

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Here are your game balls for No. 8 South Caroloina's 34-24 victory over No. 19 Wisconsin:

Connor Shaw - What else can you say about the winningest quarterback in school history? All week Shaw declined interview requests and remained focused on the job at hand. Today, that paid off incredibly well with a magnificent performance throwing the ball as well as he ever has and continuing to get the tough rushing yards he made his name on. He willed his team to this win, and to do it in such a fashion only cements his legacy as arguably the best quarterback the school ever has had.

Bruce Ellington - With an eye on the NFL Draft, Ellington made the most of what could be his last appearance in a Gamecock uniform, catching six passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns. No catch was bigger than his sensational fourth down catch in the fourth quarter that kept the drive alive that gave the Gamecocks the lead they'd never lose. If indeed it was his last time wearing a football jersey, it was one that only increased his legend.

Shaq Roland - Who was going to step in and replace the injured Damiere Byrd? Looks like that would be Shaq Roland, who came up big in the second half for USC. After two catches for two yards in the first half, Roland caught four balls in the second half for 110 yards.

Sharrod Golightly - Desperately needing a stop with a three-point fourth-quarter lead on fourth-and-inches from the USC 26, Golightly dove through the pile and speared Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon behind the line of scrimmage for a one-yard loss. The Gamecocks took over on downs and proceeded to drive 74 yards for the touchdown that made the score 27-17.

Victor Hampton - On first and 10 from the Badger 25 trailing by three, Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave was flushed out of the pocket and began to run upfield. Being a pocket passer with limited rushing experience, Stave was five yards downfield and running as straight up when he went from 60 to 0 in one second thanks to a crushing hit from Hampton that took Stave out of the game five plays later. Wisconsin's backup quarterback, Curt Phillips, relieved and threw two interceptions to seal the Badgers' fate.

Skai Moore - Moore capped a terrific season to collect five tackles and two interceptions, the first in the first quarter to set up South Carolina's first touchdown on the next play and the second in the end zone in the fourth quarter to squelch Wisconsin's last chance at a comeback.

Kaiwan Lewis - Another linebacker who came on in the second half of the season to become a stalwart, Lewis led the team in tackles with nine against Wisconsin and added an interception and late fumble recovery for good measure to cement his status as the Gamecocks' middle linebacker of the future.

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