Michigan, South Carolina seek strong finish in Outback Bowl
Outback Bowl: Michigan (8-4) vs. South Carolina (8-4), at Tampa, Fla., Monday, 12 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Line: Michigan by 7+
Series Record: South Carolina leads 2-1.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Michigan aims to avoid its first three-game losing streak under coach Jim Harbaugh. Regardless of the outcome, it has been a disappointing season for the Wolverines, who expected to contend for the Big Ten title and a playoff berth. All four of their losses came in conference play. South Carolina took a step forward in its second year under Will Muschamp. The Gamecocks finished second in the SEC East, with their only losses over the last two months of the season coming against Georgia and Clemson, two of the four teams in the College Football Playoff.
Michigan’s potent offense, which has amassed more than 5,000 yards in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2010 and 2011, against a South Carolina defense that’s yielding 20.8 points per game and has held 11 of 12 opponents under their season average. The Gamecocks will be tested through the air, as well on the ground, where the Wolverines have had at least 36 rushing attempts in every game and gained 2,236 yards while scoring 25 touchdowns rushing.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Michigan: QBs Brandon Peters, John O’Korn and Wilton Speight won games as starters, making the Wolverines one of three teams – along with Maryland and Houston – to win with three different QBs this season. Also have a trio of RBs with more than 500 yards rushing – Karan Higdon (929), Chris Evans (661) and Ty Isaac (548) – for first time since 1991.
South Carolina: QB Jake Bentley has completed 62.3 percent of his passes for 2,555 yards, 16 TDs and 11 interceptions. RB R.J. Turner stepped up after injury to Rico Dowdle, averaging 6.2 yards per carry and rushing for 457 over past six games. Had 60 yards on 20 carries in first six. WR Bryan Edwards has 59 receptions for 705 yards, four TDs.
FACTS & FIGURES
Michigan is making its 46th bowl appearance, its sixth in the Outback Bowl, which previously was known as Hall of Fame Bowl. Wolverines are 21-24 overall – 3-2 in Tampa, including 33-28 to South Carolina in 2013 Outback. … Gamecocks are 8-13 in bowl games, but have won four of past five. Fifth appearance in Outback, where they are 3-1. … Coach Will Muschamp has 14 victories in first two seasons at South Carolina. Only Joe Morrison and Steve Spurrier with 15 had more to start their tenures with the Gamecocks.
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