South Carolina won the Outback Bowl in consecutive years a decade ago, and they return as a favorite against the Michigan Wolverines in 2013 Outback Bowl odds action. The Big Ten matches up with the SEC three times on New Year's Day, including this game, where the 8-4 Wolverines go against the 10-2 Gamecocks in Tampa.
SC had ideas about winning the SEC East this season, and they started 6-0 and 4-0 in SEC play, with wins over Vandy and Georgia. But back-to-back losses at LSU and at Florida in October put an end to any conference championship hopes South Carolina was harboring.
The Gamecocks then recovered to win their last four games in a row, finishing with a 27-17 Palmetto Bowl victory at Clemson with backup QB Dylan Thompson subbing for injured starter Connor Shaw. Statistically speaking the Gamecocks outgained opponents this season by a 372-312 YPG margin, and outrushed foes, 143-119.
Michigan, meanwhile, came into this season with thoughts of winning the Big Ten title, but came up two games short. The Wolverines lost their season opener to defending national champion Alabama, 41-14, and a few weeks later lost a tough game at Notre Dame, 13-6. So Michigan can say it played (and lost to) both teams in this year's BCS title game.
Big Blue then won its first three Big Ten games, but lost at Nebraska. Then, after three more conference victories, Michigan ended its regular season with a 26-21 rivalry loss at undefeated Ohio State.
By the numbers the Wolverines, playing eight games with Denard Robinson at QB and four games with Devin Gardner behind center, outgained opponents this season by a 385-311 YPG margin, and outrushed foes 187-156.
On the personnel front SC took a hit back in October when RB Marcus Lattimore went down and out for the season with a nasty knee injury. Michigan, meanwhile, suffered a loss when RB Fitzgerald Toussaint broke a leg in a win over Iowa in November.
South Carolina is playing in a bowl for the fifth-straight season. Last year the Gamecocks beat Nebraska 30-13 in the Capital One Bowl. Michigan is now two-for-two playing in bowls under Brady Hoke. Last year the Wolverines defeated Virginia Tech in overtime in the Sugar Bowl 23-20.
Outback Bowl Pick: The spread on this game has moved toward South Carolina, and while we don't like to go with the flow, we'll make an exception here and go with the Gamecocks minus the points. (courtesy of PickShark.com)
Look through SB Nation's many excellent college football blogs to find your team's community.