Matchup: Michigan (8-4) vs. South Carolina (8-4)
Date: Monday, January 1st, 2018
Time: 12:00 pm EST
Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
Line: Michigan (-7.5)
For the second time in 5 years, Michigan will play South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. In the last affair Michigan ended up losing 33-28 in a close battle. The game left us all with a bitter taste in our mouth. Specifically when Jadeveon Clowney blew up Vincient Smith in the backfield.
This year the outcome will likely be a little different. Michigan’s offense falls short of being even in the conversation of being a powerhouse offense, but their defense is once again one of the best in the nation. Overall, Michigan had the top pass defense in the country.
The only worry is that at times their run defense can be lacking. They have given up around 3.5 yds/rush, and their run defense has been exposed by the better teams in the Big Ten.
Against Michigan State, they allowed 158 rushing yards; Ohio State, 226; and against Penn State they allowed 224 rushing yards.
South Carolina Offense
Not all of this is bad news though, as South Carolina has the 107th worst rushing offense in the country right behind Eastern Michigan. Their total offense sits in the same place nationally at 107. They average a mere 11.31 yds/com.
Compared to the most efficient pass offense in the country (with 200 or more attempts) they are roughly 5 yards behind Oklahoma. This is a sizable difference.
Considering how good the Michigan Defense has been, the U of M defense against the USC offense should fall advantageous to Michigan.
Michigan’s passing game has been the epitome of this years’ team. Under O’Korn and Speight, it was horrendous. Under Peters, however, it was better.
After O’Korn was yanked in the Rutgers game, the offense immediately improved. The good news for Michigan fans is that Peters will be back for the bowl game and is 100% guaranteed the starting spot for the game.
With Peters and Higdon/Evans/Isaac in the backfield, it seems as if the Michigan offense should have no problems. Minus, of course, the O-Line, which has struggled at times this year.
South Carolina Defense:
South Carolina’s defense is mediocre and a little bit ahead of the middle of the pack. They have the 44th overall run defense and allow 11.5 yds/com.
Like I said before they’re mediocre and are nothing like the defense we saw in 2013.
Their defense is very similar to that of Purdue in terms of talent. They’ve got a couple of good guys who can make solid plays, but those solid plays don’t happen every play so they get burned for it.
Skai Moore (ILB) vs. Karan Higdon (RB)
Skai Moore led the Gamecocks defense with 88 total tackles and 3 interceptions. He was their standout Linebacker throughout the season and as a redshirt senior was their captain.
Karan Higdon led the Wolverines in total yards from scrimmage and had the majority of touches amongst the running backs.
Seeing these two square up should be fun to watch come Monday.
Bryan Edwards (WR) vs. Lavert Hill (DB)
Bryan Edwards was the favorite target for QB Jake Bently this season, receiving 59 passes and 4 of his TD’s through the season. He’s South Carolina’s best receiver has had a couple of years of experience under his belt.
Lavert Hill had the most pass breakups of any Michigan DB this season with 7. He had 24 total tackles and was a team leader with 2 ints.
Depending how Don Brown sets it up we should see a Bryan Edwards v. Lavert Hill 1v1 at some point during the game
Keys to the Game:
- Lockdown the South Carolina offense. This has been a key in every single game Michigan has played in this year minus the Michigan State game. If the Michigan Defense can lock it down, Michigan can win.
- Have consistent QB Play. With Peters back, this shouldn’t be a problem, but so far this year you never know. If Peters can play decent, Michigan has an even better chance to win.
- Keep the defense off of the field as much as possible. Having a well-rested D will continue to help in the first key and will.
- Capitalize on SC’s mistakes. Michigan NEEDS to be successful in the red zone in order to win and this goes hand in hand with capitalizing on South Carolina’s mistakes. Michigan did this well in the first quarter of the OSU game and the first 3 quarters of the Wisconsin game, for the most part. If Michigan can do this, the game is a lock.
With a strong defense and an offense that’s close to being put back together, I expect this bowl game to go a lot like Jim Harbaugh’s first bowl game in 2016.
My Prediction – Michigan 31, South Carolina 10
Josh Abeare – Michigan 42, South Carolina 17
Seth Berry – Michigan 23, South Carolina 14
Ryan Caldwell – Michigan 31, South Carolina 17
Josh Swerdloff – Michigan 34, South Carolina 10
Charlie Bolone – Michigan 42, South Carolina 23
Noah Starr – Michigan 23, South Carolina 27
Jake Rossler- Michigan 24 South Carolina 6