South Carolina Comes From Behind Against Michigan
It was a dreary day at Raymond James stadium for the 2018 edition of the Outback Bowl, but the gray skies couldn’t dampen the spirits of the thousands of Michigan faithful and South Carolina fans who made the trek to Tampa Bay. The game started with both teams punting on their opening drives. Which was followed by two more three and outs as neither team could get anything going on the game’s first 4 drives. A few minutes later the game finally got interesting when the Big Blue went 3 and out, but were able to recover the ball after South Carolina bobbled it around the 50-yard line. From there the Wolverines started moving the ball and rattled off several first downs before stalling around the 25-yard line. Michigan then kicked a 35-yard field goal to go up 3-0. A few plays later Michigan struck again by recovering a fumble on the 31-yard line in South Carolina territory. Michigan then converted a 26-yard field goal to take a 6-0 lead.
In the 2nd quarter the “punt fest” returned as defense continued to dominate this game. Then South Carolina opened it up around the 10-minute mark as QB Jake Bentley found Bryan Edwards for a 38-yard completion. The Gamecocks then cut Michigan’s lead in half with a 44-yard field goal from Parker White. But it did not take long for the three and outs to return with a number of punts from both teams. Michigan then ended the first half with a 45-yard field goal from Quinn Nordin to go back up by 6.
Coming out of the half the defensive slugfest continued with not much happening on the offensive end. Then out of nowhere, Michigan QB Brandon Peters strung together 3 consecutive passes to march Michigan down the field. Running back Karan Higdon then took the ball to the one yard line, where Ben Mason plunged in from one yard line to go up 16-3 on South Carolina. On the ensuing drive Noah Furbush intercepted Jake Bentley’s pass at the Michigan 46-yard line and returned it 27 yards to the South Carolina 27. The Wolverines then fumbled the ball at the 4-yard line pinning South Carolina deep in their own territory. On the Wolverines next possession, they were able to add to their lead with a 48-yard field goal to make it 19-3. South Carolina did not take long to respond as they punched it in on a 17-yard touchdown run by Rico Dowdle to make it a 2-possession game at 19-9. Michigan then fumbled the ball deep in their own territory and the Game Cocks took advantage with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Bentley to Bryan Edwards to make it 19-16 in favor of Michigan.
In the 4th quarter South Carolina kept it rolling with a 53-yard bomb down the sidelines to Shi Smith, giving the Gamecocks their first lead at 23-19. Michigan then drove deep to the 5-yard where QB Brandon Peters threw an interception in the end zone. Then on Michigan’s next chance they muffed the punt giving South Carolina the ball on the Michigan 15-yard line. The Gamecocks kicked a 22-yard field goal to go up 26-19 with just under 4 minutes to play in the game. Michigan did get a couple cracks at mounting a comeback, but were unable to move the ball and ultimately threw an interception sealing the win for South Carolina.
With the victory South Carolina is now 9-4 for the just the 7th time in school history, and appears to be building confidence as they head into next season. Michigan on the other hand, is headed in the opposite direction as they finished the season losing three straight games.