On New Year's Day, two Top 20 teams will collide in the Outback Bowl as the South Carolina Gamecocks face the Michigan Wolverines. The Gamecocks went 6-2 in SEC play and notched wins against Georgia and Clemson, falling only to Top 10 opponents Florida and LSU. The Wolverines also posted a 6-2 conference record, losing only to Ohio State and Nebraska. But non-conference losses to BCS National Championship opponents Notre Dame and Alabama dropped the blue and yellow to 8-4 on the season.
The boys over at Maize N Brew have a breakdown of South Carolina's defense, pointing out their weak interior line while emphasizing the skill they have at defensive end. Ends Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor have combined for 16 sacks, with 13 going in the back pocket of Clowney. Neutralizing them will be up to Michigan's running game, which ranks 40th in the country at over 187 yards per game. If the Wolverines can pound the ball up the middle, the play-action game can keep the speedy ends off-balance and keep quarterback Devin Gardner upright. Denard Robinson can be utilized all over the field, with his running ability complemented by his ability to line up at quarterback, giving Michigan a variety of looks to give the nation's 13th-ranked defense.
Over at Garnet & Black Attack, the breakdown of Michigan's offense continues. The Wolverines have rushed the ball 457 times to just 281 pass attempts, though many of those rushes came on broken pass plays that saw Robinson take off. But that versatility plays well against outside rushers, and the Wolverines would be well-served to make the Gamecocks break contain.
Both teams are coming off a bowl victories last season, with Michigan winning, 23-20, in overtime against Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl and South Carolina defeating Nebraska, 30-13, in the Capitol One Bowl.
Game date and time
Jan. 1, 1 p.m. ET
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
South Carolina by 6
Michigan: AM 1050 MTKA
South Carolina: AM 1400 WSPG
Last year’s game
Michigan State squeaked by Georgia, 33-30.
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