It may not have been the back-to-back BCS bowl appearances that Brady Hoke and company had hoped for at the onset of the season, but the Wolverines are, at least, playing on New Year's Day. Michigan and South Carolina will do battle in the Outback Bowl at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN.
It's no secret that the Big Ten has struggled against the SEC, but our staff seems to think that things may work out differently in this match up.
Andy Coppens (Co-managing editor)
Thoughts: Awww… Who doesn't love them some 'Ole Ball Coach – said no one ever!! That aside Spurrier's USC teams have underachieved and you can say the same for this year's Michigan team. Yes, injuries hurt them and teams figuring out what Brady Hoke coached teams look like after a year of film didn't help either. Those are just excuses though and we all know what excuses are like, right? 😉 For me this game comes down to who's passing game makes the fewest mistakes. I don't expect Robinson to be playing strictly QB on Tuesday, but I am amped up to see him take on Jaedeveon Clowney to say the least. I actually like this matchup for the Wolverines because of the month off to game plan and Devin Gardner has impressed me to an extent at QB. I've never been one to bet on (for entertainment purposes only of course) any Spurrier coached team in the bowl season and I'm not starting with this one.
Prediction: Michigan 23, South Carolina 17
…more after the jump…
Nate Woelfel (Co-managing editor)
Thoughts: Though Michigan posted a solid season, the 2012 campaign did not go exactly as planned, but a win over South Carolina would make amends for that. However, downing the Gamecocks is easier said than done. The Wolverines have been outstanding at defending the pass this season, giving up just 155.2 yards per game in the air. But, as many have pointed out, it is likely that Michigan's success on defense will be gauged on its ability to stuff the run in this game. On the offensive side of the football, turnovers have plagued the Wolverines at times this year and minimizing them will be a necessity if the Wolverines are to win. It still isn't clear how much we can expect to see of Denard Robinson in this one, but with a month to prepare, Michigan should be fine either way. Brady Hoke gets his boys to play hard in big games (sans the showdown with Alabama). I have reason to believe that this game will be no exception.
Prediction: Michigan 24, South Carolina 21
Will Nahikian (Featured columnist):
Thoughts: Funny that the Wolverine fans bashed the Spartans a year ago for being in this very same bowl, look where they are now. With that being said, the Gamecocks are without their best player in Lattimore due to that gruesome injury which really should help the Wolverines. South Carolina will also be rotating quarterbacks in Shaw and Thompson, which makes game planning a bit tougher. Both quarterbacks have been good and Connor Shaw will get the start. Michigan will be doing the same with Gardner and Robinson, but Robinson has also been playing some running back, kick returner, punt returner and wide receiver in practice. How will they use him? He surely is explosive and they should be able to exploit some mismatches with his speed. The Gamecock defense has been stellar and they rank 12th in the NCAA with 17.4 points against per game. They also have Jadeveon Clowney who has become one of the most dominant defensive players in the NCAA. I think he becomes the x-factor in this one as the Gamecocks destroy the Wolverines and Clowney finishes with a few sacks while creating some turnovers with pressure.
Prediction: South Carolina 31, Michigan 14