South Carolina beat Michigan in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day in Tampa, 26-19. The Gamecocks came back from a 19-3 deficit late in the third quarter and won on the strength of five takeaways. Michigan’s collapse cost the Big Ten a perfect bowl record.
The Gamecocks finished 9-4, and the Wolverines finished 8-5. South Carolina’s victory means free Bloomin’ Onion appetizers at Outback Steakhouses.
During the third quarter, the Bloomin’ Onion Man mascot — an Outback Bowl staple, along with the Coconut Shrimp — was SB Nation’s Ryan Nanni. South Carolina’s fortunes turned in the exact quarter Nanni showed up on the sidelines.
This was a running diary of the game, with highlights mixed in:
South Carolina 26, Michigan 19, 0:00: The Wolverines’ Brandon Peters threw a pick to Carolina’s Steven Montac with 1:05 left to seal the game.
South Carolina 26, Michigan 19, 3:47: The Gamecocks added a 22-yard Parker White field goal after a Michigan muffed punt, extending their lead to a touchdown and PAT.
South Carolina 23, Michigan 19, 7:53: On a third-and-goal from Carolina’s 5-yard line, Brandon Peters threw an interception in the end zone to the Gamecocks’ JaMarcus King. That’s a touchback, and Michigan’s best shot to pull ahead is squandered.
South Carolina 23, Michigan 19, 11:33: The Gamecocks lead for the first time, not even 10 minutes after they trailed 19-3. Jake Bentley found Shi Smith for a 53-yard touchdown pass to put Carolina in front. The wheels are falling off for Michigan.
Michigan 19, South Carolina 16, 0:00.
Michigan 19, South Carolina 16, 0:51: Well, now things are interesting! South Carolina scored two touchdowns 94 seconds apart, this one coming after a Michigan turnover. Jake Bentley found Bryan Edwards for a 21-yard scoring strike, one play after Michigan QB Brandon Peters fumbled the ball away. The touchdown:
Michigan 19, South Carolina 9, 2:25: The Gamecocks finally scored a touchdown, on a speed option pitch from Jake Bentley to Rico Dowdle. A two-point conversion try failed, keeping Michigan’s lead at two scores.
After the touchdown, you might’ve noticed the Bloomin’ Onion Man mascot running around in the end zone. That’s our guy, Ryan Nanni!
Michigan 19, South Carolina 3, 5:42: Quinn Nordin’s 48-yard field goal — his fourth of the day and longest so far — extended Michigan’s lead.
Michigan 16, South Carolina 3, 7:49: South Carolina forced a fumble and got the ball back inside its own 5-yard line, at least temporarily averting a three-touchdown deficit.
Michigan 16, South Carolina 3, 9:03: The Wolverines’ Noah Furbush intercepted Jake Bentley at the UM 46 and ran it 27 yards to South Carolina’s 27. The Wolverines appear to have things well in hand, as South Carolina’s offense can’t move.
Michigan 16, South Carolina 3, 9:56: Michigan drove 72 yards across seven plays and 3:34 of clock time on its first drive of the second half, capped by a 1-yard Ben Mason touchdown run. The game’s previous longest drive? A 45-yard field goal trek by South Carolina in the first half. A wild offense has appeared in Tampa, at long last.
The first half of the Outback Bowl wasn’t compelling, at least not if you’re someone who likes free-flowing offense and lots of points. The teams traded punts and field goals all half, with Michigan edging ahead on the leg of kicker Quinn Nordin.
Total yardage: Michigan 97, South Carolina 89. The Gamecocks are averaging 3.9 yards per play to Michigan’s 2.4, but the Wolverines have held the ball for 20 of the first 30 minutes. They’ve gotten six of their nine points off Carolina turnovers.
This is some epic offensive futility:
Michigan-South Carolina is the season's first game between Power 5 teams with neither team gaining 100 yards of offense in the first half. #OutbackBowl— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 1, 2018
Michigan 9, South Carolina 3, 0:00: The Wolverines’ Quinn Nordin connected on a 45-yard field goal as time expired. It was his third made field goal of the half.
Michigan 6, South Carolina 3, 8:45: The Gamecocks’ Parker White knocked through a 43-yard field goal to put his team on the board.
Michigan 6, South Carolina 0, 10:21: South Carolina’s defense is keeping the Gamecocks on the game, though the Cocks haven’t gotten moving at all yet on offense. They’ll start their next drive at their own 29-yard line after a 26-yard Michigan punt.
Michigan 6, South Carolina 0, 0:00.
Michigan 6, South Carolina 0, 0:09: Michigan added second Quinn Nordin field goal with nine seconds left in the opening quarter — this one from 26 yards.
Michigan 3, South Carolina 0, 3:38: Michigan cashed in a 35-yard field goal from Quinn Nordin after South Carolina’s Chris Lammons muffed a punt, which UM fell on at the South Carolina 46. Punting has proven to be the most effective offense so far.
Michigan 0, South Carolina 0, 9:50: In the early going, this game has been a battle of punts. There have been four drives, and all have ended with three-and-outs and punts. Some truly exciting stuff.
Michigan 0, South Carolina 0, 14:45: They’re underway at Raymond James Stadium. Michigan started the game with the ball.
Jim Harbaugh will get one more chance to get a significant win before the end of the season — and start 2018 on a winning note — by way of the Outback Bowl. The Michigan Wolverines will face Will Muschamp’s South Carolina Gamecocks on Monday at noon (ET) on ESPN2 (live stream).
With consistency a problem at quarterback for most of the season, Michigan’s QB competition for next season essentially starts in the Outback Bowl. Brandon Peters will have a chance to head into the offseason as the leader of the pack, but in his limited number of snaps during the season, he threw for 486 yards and a 57.8 completion percentage.
The starting quarterback for the Gamecocks, Jake Bentley, is a tad more established, finishing the regular season with 2,555 passing yards for 16 touchdowns (against 11 interceptions) for a 62.4 completion percentage.
Time, TV channel, and streaming info
- Time: Noon ET
- Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
- TV: ESPN2
- Streaming: WatchESPN
- Odds: Michigan opened as 7.5-point favorites.
Michigan vs. South Carolina news:
- SB Nation’s Ryan Nanni will live out his dream as the Bloomin’ Onion mascot.
- After some back and forth, it looks like Michigan DT Maurice Hurst will play in the Outback Bowl.
“Yes, (Hurst is) playing,” Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh told reporters Wednesday evening. “That what he’s told us. He wants to do what’s best for Mo Hurst but he also wants to do what’s best for the team.”
- Despite strength on defense, the Wolverines are big favorites over the Gamecocks.
With an excellent defense and discombobulated offense, Michigan shares some similarities with the Gamecocks. The Wolverines’ program is in a different place, however: Bitter losses to rivals Michigan State and Ohio State have some re-examining their expectations for coach Jim Harbaugh, and incredibly, the Wolverines have not beaten a team with a winning record this season.
- The Gamecocks had a few roster changes since their regular season finale.
Freshman defensive back Jamyest Williams will be unavailable for the bowl game after undergoing shoulder surgery. Reserve defensive back Kaleb Chalmers, who transferred to South Carolina by way of junior college after originally attending Clemson, will be moving on from the Gamecocks.
So is Jim Harbaugh on the hot seat after this season?
It doesn’t appear that the Michigan boosters are concerned that the Wolverines went 8-4 on the season, and 5-4 within the Big Ten. Not to mention, having lost three years in a row to rival Ohio State and two of his three matchups with in-state rival Michigan State.
The defense hasn’t been a problem for the Wolverines, despite losing a lot of talent to the NFL last season. The offense on the other hand, has been an issue his entire tenure in Ann Arbor. Harbaugh is in only his third year as head coach for the Wolverines and will likely get a lot more time before the “Michigan Man” finds himself on the hot seat, with boosters and fans alike.
Michigan vs. South Carolina prediction:
The Wolverines get a win over an upward trending South Carolina team. Both programs finished the year 8-4, but Michigan and Jim Harbaugh have more firepower to make up for their offensive deficiencies. The Gamecocks go home with a loss, but with things to build on for next season.
Be sure to check out all our bowl predictions here.