2018 Outback Bowl preview

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)

2017 Outback Bowl preview

Chase Winovich (Photo by michigandaily.com)

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)

2017 Outback Bowl preview

Skai Moore (Photo by thestate.com)

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



College Quarterbacks Trending Up Coming into The 2017 CFB Season

It’s the dog days of college football. We are a few weeks from removed spring ball and a few weeks away from the start of the summer practice for your favorite team. And every year the same question is posed: Which college quarterbacks are trending up?

By the end of the college football year come back to this article, and see which college quarterbacks stayed calm in the pocket or got sacked. Let’s get into the list:

Jake Bentley- South Carolina

Photo By: Gerry Melendez/ The State

By the end of the SEC year there were three young quarterbacks emerging onto the scene, South Carolina’s Jake Bentley, Georgia’s Jacob Eason and Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald. Bentley is on my list because he has proven to me to be a more effective passer than those three in only six games. And Gamecock Central‘s Collyn Taylor agrees with me. When we talked I asked him whose skills are you more confident in between these three and he said Bentley.

“I think I’d be more confident in Bentley’s skills. He was supposed to be in high school last season and came in made some phenomenal throws without a good offensive line. He’s shown he has an SEC caliber arm and can learn on the fly. If he continues to develop like he has been, he could be one of the best quarterbacks in the conference next season,” said Taylor.

Last year, Bentley really only had one bad game. When the Gamecocks visited their upstate rival Clemson, no one played well. But besides that game he shows so much promise.

Coming into the season, he didn’t start but when came in he balled out. The first three weeks Bentley did something USC hasn’t seen since 2014, three wins in a row. Remember, this guy still could have been playing in high school. He started the last seven games and won four of those games. His best game being against the Missouri Tigers. He threw for 254 yards on over 70 percent passing (second game in a row he did it) and two touchdowns.

More than anything he has given USC fans something to believe in. From a pure passing set, he is already one of the best QBs in Gamecock history. With the Gamecocks riding in the “Bentley”, they should be fighting for a SEC East title.

Mason Rudolph- Oklahoma State

Photo By: Sue Ogrocki/ AP

From a university in South Carolina to kid from the Palmetto State, Mason Rudolph has been one of my favorite quarterbacks since I saw him take down 4-Star QB and then-Georgia commit Jacob Park from my high school alma mater, Stratford High.

Last year he backed up his good 2015 campaign with a great 2016 campaign. He increased in completion, attempts, yards, touchdowns and QB rating. And also he had less interceptions down from a 9 in 2015 to only 4 in 2016. He has turned it up and has placed OK State back on the map for more than Mike Gundy telling us he is 40.

Last year his most impressive game had to be when outlasted Patrick Mahomes and Texas Tech and won 45-44. He had a higher completion rate and more yards (less attempts) than future first rounder Mahomes. Rudolph finished the game with 395 yards on 71.4 percent passing and a passer rating of 213.5.

He is definitely one of the better quarterbacks Gundy has had in Stillwater but there is still one obstacle in Rudolph’s way: Baker Mayfield and his Oklahoma Sooners.

Deondre Francois- Florida State

Photo By: Joe Rondone/ Democrat

From one 10-3 quarterback to another, Deondre Francois had one heck of a start to his collegiate career last year. Freshman Francois jumped out the gate in a neutral site game against of the better college quarterbacks Chad Kelly and came out battered, scarred and victorious.

Even since that first game, fans across the nation could tell he would be special. In one year, he is already the premier quarterback in the ACC. He finished the season with 3350 yards, 20 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He also finished the season out strong winning his last five games.

His most impressive game to me, besides the Ole Miss game, was his first trip to Miami against a good talent in Brad Kaaya quarterbacking the Hurricanes. After the halftime break, he came back down 13-3 to rival Miami. In the third quarter, he led his Seminoles down the field twice for two passing touchdowns in consecutive drives. Both drives starting in Seminoles territory.

Last year he won over the fans and his fellow players and this year he has to win some championships. The ACC is his for the taking and if he can win the ACC he will be in the College Football Playoff.

Trace McSorley- Penn State

Photo By: Abby Drey/ Centre Daily Times via AP

Another 10-3 quarterback, Trace McSorley of Penn State. He and coach James Franklin are restoring the winning ways of Penn State. More or less 2016 was McSorley’s “freshman” campaign. In 2015, he only attempted 40 passes. In 2016, he took college football by storm. He finished with 29 touchdowns, 3614 yards and only 8 interceptions. He probably would not like me saying this but he reminds me of the college-Johnny Manziel/Baker Mayfield QB build. All three are short, true dual threat, accurate and flamboyant. They are big time players and I like that about them.

No better game speaks to that then the 2017 Rose Bowl. It was such a beautiful game. Going back and forth, tooth and nail with the USC Trojans on the biggest stage Penn State has been on in a while. Even though he fell short, he impressed many that night. He finished with 254 passing yards, 4 passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown. From 11:44 left in the second quarter to 1:55 left in the third quarter, Penn State scored on seven straight possessions. McSorley had all five of his touchdowns in that span.

Many Nittany Lion fans will remember his three interceptions but he had a adjusted QBR of over 70 and a completion rate over 60 in the game as well.

But the quarterback on the other side of this game might be trending even higher than McSorley.

Sam Darnold- Southern California

Photo By: Mark J. Terrill/ AP

The name everyone has been waiting for: Sam Darnold of Southern California. He didn’t start until Week 4. And since Week 4, the Trojans have not taken an L. Darnold led the Trojans to nine straight wins, which is the second longest active winning streak in college football. In that nine game span, only two games were decided by less than 10 points. He finished the season with 3086 yards, 31 touchdowns and 9 interceptions on over 67 percent passing.

Just like Trace McSorley, his best game was the 2017 Rose Bowl. He had 453 yards passing, five passing touchdowns and one interceptions. His most important passing touchdown came late in the fourth quarter. He drove his team 80 yards down the field in 39 seconds to tie up the game with his fifth passing touchdown. Eventually, Matt Boermeester would hit the 46-yard field goal and win the game.

Coming into his redshirt sophomore year, he is expected to lead the Trojans to their former glory. Also he has the expectations of being the odds on favorite as the best quarterback coming into the 2018 NFL Draft. Let’s see if he can keep trending up this season.

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

2016 Birmingham Bowl Preview

The South Florida Bulls will take on the South Carolina Gamecocks in the 2016 Birmingham Bowl.

South Florida Bulls

The Bulls had a great season and finished at 10-2. Their only losses came to Florida State and Temple. They have wins over three bowl eligible teams: Navy, Memphis and UCF.

Birmingham Bowl

Quinton Flowers (Photo courtesy: foxsports.com)

Quinton Flowers has one of the best seasons in college football, but most people don’t know about it. He has 2,5511 passing yards and 22 passing touchdowns, with only six interceptions. He has added 1,425 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns. There aren’t too many guys with the ability to pull that off and Flowers has proven he is one of the best play-makers in the country at the quarterback position.

Wide receiver Rodney Adams has been by far the most productive receiver for USF. His 60 catches is more than double anyone else on the team. He has five touchdowns on the season, but is more of a possession receiver than a big play threat with 12.6 yards per catch.

Marlon Mack has been Flowers’ partner in crime in the running game with 1,137 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns. The two make up a dynamic backfield that is on par with any other in the country.

The Bulls give up a lot of rushing yards at 205 yards per game. The pass defense is a lot worse and allows 277 yards per game.

Defensive back Deatrick Nichols will be a key to getting the ball back to the Bull offense and has four interceptions on the year. Linebacker Auggie Sanchez is a tackle machine with four games of over 10 tackles.

South Carolina Gamecocks

Things were not looking great for South Carolina coming into the season, but they made a bowl game at 6-6. Their only losses came to bowl eligible teams, but they were able to beat two of them in the process. They beat Tennessee and Vanderbilt in those big wins.

Birmingham Bowl

Jake Bentley (Photo courtesy: smokeys-trail.com)

The Gamecocks found their future quarterback this season and are now featuring him on offense. Jake Bentley had a good first season for South Carolina, starting six games and winning four. He threw for 1,030 yards and six touchdowns, while only throwing two interceptions. His completion percentage of 63% is a good starting point for him.

Bentley has the luxury of spreading the ball around with three different receivers having over 500 yards receiving. Deebo Samuel, Hayden Hurst and Bryan Edwards all are valuable targets for South Carolina.

Rico Dowdle and A.J. Turner get the bulk of the carries for the Gamecocks. Dowdle has 714 rushing yards and six touchdowns, while Turner has 448 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

The rush defense of South Carolina is bad, allowing 203 yards per game. The pass defense is good though, allowing 204 yards per game.

Darius English has been a menace on defense with 9 sacks. He will have to help stop Flowers and Mack from running the ball as well in this game.


The Bulls will move the ball against the bad South Carolina rush defense. Flowers and Mack both have big games and lead South Florida to victory.


South Florida Bulls 30 South Carolina 23


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