South Carolina football will take on Michigan in the Outback Bowl on New Years Day. Kick off is scheduled for 1pm and the game will be televised on ESPN. Both teams want this win for their programs as getting that bowl win helps the mood of the program in the off-season but also gives a boost to recruiting.
For USC, they must treat their trip to Tampa as a business trip and stay on task to get that 11th win of the 2012 season. To do so there are five Wolverines that the Gamecocks must respect when on the field and don't let these five be the "game-changers." They are:
1. Denard Robinson. Don't let his late season elbow injury think he can not take over the game. He hasn't been throwing much recently so if he is under center expect more of a run rather than the pass. However, you got to respect it just like his speed. This season, he threw for 1,319 yards and passed for nine touchdowns and he rushed for 1,166 yards for seven scores. Robinson will play the superback role — tailback, slot receiver and Wildcat quarterback — so the Gamecocks have to know where he is on the field and contain him at all times.
2. Jake Ryan. The redshirt sophomore has been a breakout star at linebacker. He's stuffed the stat sheet this year with 84 total tackles to go with four sacks, 14.5 TFLs, four forced fumbles and three pass deflections. The Gamecocks must know where he is at all times and ensure a block is placed on him as the last thing they need is him to be a force on the UM defense.
3. Devin Gardner. In the last four games of the season, he was the main quarterback for UM. He passed for 1,005 yards and eight touchdowns on 57-of-90 passing. He did throw four interceptions but he also ran for seven touchdowns. So he can hurt USC via the pass or the direct snap. Watch out for him and Robinson on the field at the same time and some creative plays.
4. Jordan Kovacs. He plays safety and played through a nagging knee injury in the second half of the season. With five weeks of rest, expect Kovacs to be healthy and a disruptive force in his final game. For the 2012 season, he had 65 tackles, five TFLs, two sacks and one FF. The USC quarterback can not lob a pass out there or put the receiver in a position to get nailed by Kovacs on a passing route.
5. Brendan Gibbons. If UM lines up for a field goal it is close to a sure thing with Gibbons. He is 44-of-44 on extra points and is 14-of-16 on field gal attempts, with a long of 52 yards. Let's hope this game does not could down to a field goal.
So there you have it. The Gamecocks better be ready.
Here are some other recent blog posts on the upcoming bowl game you may enjoy…