South Carolina made an impressive push towards the top of the national rankings this year before they lost two in a row mid-season (LSU then Florida). South Carolina will meet Michigan in the Outback Bowl this year in what is expected to be a competitive game. Michigan finished the season 8-4 having lost to Alabama, Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State. With the exception of Ohio State (although Ohio State went 12-0) all those teams are playing in major BCS bowls. South Carolina finished the season 10-2 beating notables Clemson and Georgia.
Hailing from the very strong SEC, South Carolina is favored to win this game with a 5.5 point spread and the over/under is 47.5 points
The big question on the Michigan side is whether QB Denard Robinson can play at QB this week. During the season Robinson hurt his elbow and has been unable to throw properly for some time. The double run/pass threat that Robinson brought to the Michigan offense at the QB position became a single run threat as he lined up at RB in the last two games. If Robinson’s elbow is not healed enough to be the starting QB then back-up QB Devin Gardner will assume the role. Gardner is actually a better passer but is not the run threat that Robinson is at QB. Keep updated on this situation.
Big news out of the Michigan camp this week, three Wolverines players were suspended for the Outback Bowl after violating team rules. Starting CB J.T. Floyd, starting P Will Hagerup and LB Brandin Hawthorne (special teams) are the three players. Michigan will really miss seniors Floyd and Hagerup as these two players are integral to the team’s performance.
South Carolina scored a per game average of 31.4 points this season. That number was likely hampered by the loss of star RB Marcus Lattimore on October 27th to a season ending knee injury. Also starting QB Connor Shaw missed the final game against Clemson due to a foot injury that should be healed now. However, the Gamecocks have not yet announced their starting QB for this bowl. South Carolina has allowed an average of 17.4 points a game, good for 12th in the nation.
Missing J.T. Floyd will really hurt the Michigan defense but they still boast a 16th ranked defense in average points against at 18.8 points. Having played top teams this season, no one can say they have not been tested on defense. They gave up 41 points to Alabama in Week 1 but then gave Notre Dame just 13 points, Nebraska 23 points, Northwestern 31 points, and Ohio State 26 points. Michigan has averaged 30 points scored per game this season. But against their best five opponents they have scored an average of 15.8 points.
The odds predict a score of about 27-21 for South Carolina. Given that each team has basically the same points for and against averages, each team has about the same total yardage production on offense, and each team has faced some of the top opponents in the nation; this should be a very competitive game. South Carolina should get a small bump for the better record and also considering that Michigan is losing a few key players. However, it will be very difficult for the Gamecocks to cover the spread in this game. The game probably will not go over 47.5 points unless the South Carolina defense permits over 20 points. Only three times this season have the Gamecocks defense allowed more than 20 points. A score around 25-20 for South Carolina would be more in keeping with the factors listed above that will influence this game.
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