Outback Bowl Preview: South Carolina vs. Michigan

University of Michigan 

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Students: 42,716 (Undergrads 27,407)

2012 Record: 8-4 overall, 6-2 Big 10

Head Coach: Brady Hoke  (2nd season as head coach 19-6 record)

All-time record vs. USC: 1-1 with last meeting in 1985

Outback Bowl record: 3-1, first trip since 2003 (Michigan 38 Florida 30)

For the second year in a row, USC will take on a Big 10 team on New Year's Day.  Last year, the Gamecocks had plenty of success against Nebraska in Orlando and this year, the Gamecocks will look to do the same against Michigan in Tampa.  If the Gamecocks can pull off the victory they will make history by having back-to-back 11 win seasons.  

This will be the third time in school history that the Gamecocks and Wolverines will meet on the football field but this is the first time in a bowl game. Michigan has the most all-time wins in NCAA BCS division with 903 victories and USC is looking to deny their next.

Here is a preview of the game…

Michigan Offense:  Denard Robinson is Michigan's offense, and has been for the past four years.  Robinson will line-up in different positions on offense, but he has the potential to be the difference maker when he touches the ball.  On the season, Denard has rushed for 1,166 yards and seven touchdowns, and has passed for 1,319 yards and nine touchdowns.  

Robinson's replacement at QB is also just as talented. Devin Gardner, in his four starts on the season, has passed for 1005 yards and eight touchdowns.

For USC, it boils down to pressure from the defensive line and good tackling in open space. Don't let one man beat you.

Michigan defense:  The Wolverines defense is ranked 10th overall in total defense giving up only 311 yards per game.  Michigan is also ranked secibd in the nation in pass defense giving up 155 yards per game.  

The UM defense is led by linebacker Jake Ryan, who leads the team in tackles with 84, tackles for loss with 14.5 and sacks with 4.  With the loss of J.T. Floyd at secondary, look for Thomas Gordon to step-up in the secondary.  Gordon has two interceptions on the season, and 75 tackles from his safety position.  

The Gamecocks must attack the UM defense via the pass and work to spread the field. By doing so, it will lead to good things and a strong showing from the Gamecocks run game. For USC, treat this game like playing Clemson as the big thing is to control the pass of the game.

What might happen:  After taking a month off, look for both teams to come out a little rusty.  Both defenses are good but it will boil down to which offense can get going the fastest out of the gate.  Denard Robinson is a game changer for UM and will have a big play sometime in the game.  USC's defense will be prepared as this isn't the first time they have played a team with a running quarterback.  Clowney has been getting most of the hype, but I look for Quarles, Taylor and Swearinger to all play one of their best games.  

The Gamecocks will need to play a perfect game on offense as if the defense is on the field the entire game, it could get ugly for USC.  Look for Mike Davis and Kenny Miles to be workhorses.  Ace Sanders and Bruce Ellington both will need to have big games on offense and specials teams to give the Gamecocks a chance.  

Prediction:  Michigan 21 USC 35  

P.S. — Happy New Years to all the Gamecock Fans