Outback Bowl: South Carolina looks to shut down Michigan
The Outback Bowl rings in the New Year with a 1:00 pm kickoff in Tampa with the No. 11 ranked South Carolina Gamecocks taking on the no. 19 ranked Michigan Wolverines. South Carolina enters this game with a record of 10-2 SU, while Michigan is 8-4 SU.
If for no other reason, football fans should tune in to watch Denard Robinson the Michigan quarterback. How much the incredible talent will be able to play depends on how much he has recovered from a nerve injury in his elbow. He has not been able to throw since October 27 in a game against Nebraska. If Robinson cannot throw then he will play running back and in passing down line up at wide receiver.
This bowl of late, which pits a SEC team versus a Big Ten team, has been one of the best non- BCS bowls. In the past 12 years, three of the games have been decided in overtime and eight of the games were won be one-possession margins.
The Gamecocks have become more of a passing team since they lost Marcus Lattimore their top rusher to a season ending injury. Bruce Ellington and Ace Sanders have played well at wide receiver and have 27 receptions and 5 touchdowns since Lattimore was hurt.
Connor Shaw the Gamecocks starting quarterback was injured in their regular season finale win over Clemson, but is expected to start in the game. South Carolina will be up against a Michigan defense that will be without one of their starting cornerbacks and one of their starting linebackers.
On special teams, Michigan will be without its punter who is suspended, which could create field position problems for the team. Nevertheless, the Michigan defense has held teams to an average of just 18 points per game. They are ranked no.16 in the nation in points allowed and have only given up over 21 points four times this season.
The biggest one on one matchup will take place when Michigan has the ball. It will pit All American Taylor Lewan at left tackle for Michigan against All American Jadeveion Clowney at defensive end for the Gamecocks. It will be 6’8” and 310 pounds of Lowan trying to stop the 6’6” and 255 pounds of Clowney. Both players are expected to go in the first round of the NFL draft when eligible. Clowney had 13 sacks this season that led nation and 21 tackles that resulted in a loss.
Robinson will be the key on offense for Michigan. In the last two games, he has played exclusively at running back and has rushed for 220 yards averaging over 9.5 yards per carry.
No team has passed for more than 199 yards against Michigan this season. The Wolverines pass defense is ranked no. 2 in the country giving up just 155 yards per game.
If Michigan can stop the rushing attack of South Carolina, they will have a chance to win, as their pass defense will shut down the Gamecocks.
The game will be close and will turn on a big defense stand or a key turnover. I like South Carolina in a low scoring game 21-17.