South Carolina will return to a popular recent bowl destination: Tampa and the Outback Bowl.
The Gamecocks have won three of their four appearances in the game since 2000. This year’s opponent, Michigan, will rouse memories of the 2013 game against the Wolverines and Jadeveon Clowney’s helmet-popping hit on Michigan running back Vincent Smith.
That year, South Carolina won 33-28 over the Brady Hoke-coached Wolverines on a touchdown pass from backup QB Dylan Thompson — in for injured starter Connor Shaw — to Bruce Ellington with 11 seconds left.
The Wolverines are 1-2 against South Carolina, with the losses coming in the 2012 and 1980 (17-14) seasons and the win coming in 1985 (34-3). Hoke lost to a Steve Spurrier-coached team, while the other matchups came with Bo Schembechler leading Michigan against Joe Morrison (1985) and Jim Carlen (1980) on the USC sideline.
Current coach Jim Harbaugh was Michigan’s QB in the 1985 game.
The Outback Bowl is scheduled to kick off at noon Eastern on Jan. 1.
Best regular-season win: Florida, 33-17
Worst regular-season loss: Penn State, 42-13
— Outback Bowl (@outbackbowl) December 3, 2017
Here are 5 things to know about the Michigan Wolverines:
1. Disappointing season
It was a disappointing season for Michigan, which fell to 1-6 against both Michigan State and Ohio State during Harbaugh’s tenure. Michigan returned the fewest starters of any FBS program, and the season was marked by injuries to multiple quarterbacks and to wide receiver Tarik Black (foot). Much of the lack of depth is attributed to the small recruiting class that came during the coaching transition from Hoke to Harbaugh.
2. SEC connection
This is the second matchup with an SEC team this season for Michigan after it beat Florida 33-17 in the season opener in Dallas. Michigan trailed 17-13 at halftime before scoring three times in the first 6 minutes of the second half. Karan Higdon, a 3-star recruit from Sarasota who did not receive an offer from Florida, ran for a 3-yard touchdown early in the second half to put Michigan up for good.
3. Wolverines rely on defense
A year after Michigan lost nine starters, including Jabrill Peppers and Jourdan Lewis, it finished the regular season second in the Big Ten in total defense. The Wolverines were tops in passing defense and third in scoring defense.
4. Quarterback carousel
Michigan struggled to find a consistent quarterback, as it played three who attempted at least 64 passes. Brandon Peters, a redshirt freshman, took over for fifth-year senior John O’Korn, but suffered a concussion at Wisconsin and didn’t play against Ohio State. He’s expected to start the bowl game. Peters made three starts this season.
5. Familiar with Sunshine State
This is the third straight season that the Wolverines will finish their season in the state of Florida. Michigan’s team has 10 players from Florida, including five starters, and all 10 have seen action this season.