Familiar foes will meet again in the 2017 Outback Bowl. South Carolina and Michigan played each other at the conclusion of the 2012 season in the same setting. While the players have changed, the passion is still running high. Here is the 2018 Outback Bowl preview:
Michigan Wolverines (8-4)
Michigan had high hopes for the season, but ended up losing in every big game they played. The Wolverines had plenty of opportunities, but lost to Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State and Wisconsin. They beat one bowl eligible team this year in Purdue.
Their offense has been anemic and averages 25.8 points per game. They run the ball decently well at 186.3 yards per game. Karan Higdon is the leading rusher with 929 yards and 11 touchdowns. Chris Evans and Ty Isaac have also produced this season with both having over 500 yards rushing.
The passing game hasn’t been as nice. Michigan’s starter was Wilton Speight, but he injured his back. John O’Korn was put in, but wasn’t the answer. Brandon Peters looked solid, but then suffered a concussion. He is probable to play in this game. He has 486 passing yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions this season. Four receivers have over 200 yards for the Wolverines with Grant Perry leading the way at 309 receiving yards.
Michigan’s defense has won them some games and allows 18.3 points per game. They rank 20th against the run and first against the pass. Defensive lineman Chase Winovich and linebacker Khaleke Hudson have combined to put a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Winovich has eight sacks, while Hudson has seven.
South Carolina Gamecocks (8-4)
The Gamecocks had a successful, eight win season under Will Muschamp. South Carolina was able to beat three bowl eligible teams, including N.C. State and Missouri. They only lost to bowl eligible teams this season.
Offensively, South Carolina has struggled this season and only scores 24.1 points per game. The running game averages 127.3 rushing yards per game. A.J. Turner and Ty’Son Williams split carries for the Gamecocks. Turner has 517 rushing yards and three touchdowns, while Williams has 460 rushing yards and one touchdown.
Jake Bentley has been leading the Gamecocks’ offense this year, but it hasn’t been pretty. He has 2,555 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on 62.4% completion. His top two targets are Bryan Edwards and Hayden Hurst. Edwards has 705 receiving yards and four touchdowns, with Hurst chipping in 518 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
The defense has been the key to South Carolina’s success this season, allowing 20.9 points per game. They rank 44th against the run and 69th against the pass. Linebacker Skai Moore is the leader of the team. He has 88 total tackles, eight tackles for loss, two sacks and three interceptions.
With both offenses being bad, it should be a low scoring game. Skai Moore will make a big play for South Carolina’s defense and will help hold Michigan. Jake Bentley will do just enough to get the win.
South Carolina Gamecocks 19 Michigan Wolverines 14