I don’t know about y’all, but I’m more than ready for some Gamecock football. I’m also ready to watch us beat the Wolverines, a team I’m always happy to see lose. Why, you ask? Well, cheering against Michigan will be easy for me, because I was raised to hate them.
You see, both of my parents went to Illinois. My aunt and uncle went to Illinois. I almost went to Illinois. My mom feels about Michigan the way USC fans feel about Clemson or Georgia, which is to say that she has a deep, undying hatred for them. So, when I found out that we’d be playing the Wolverines, and not Northwestern (where I just finished grad school), I was, needless to say, excited.
All of that being said, Michigan is by no means a pushover. They’re ranked No. 18 and finished the season 8-4, with their two out of conference losses coming against Alabama and Notre Dame, who will play for the national title in a week.
The Wolverines have not yet announced whether Denard Robinson or Devin Gardner will start under center, but, much like the Gamecocks duo of Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson, both guys are capable. Robinson, of course, is more of a running threat if he’s healthy, but we likely won’t know who’s getting the nod until game time.
Speaking of Shaw and Thompson, the former will start, but Steve Spurrier said both guys will see playing time. Like Robinson, Shaw is obviously more of a running threat, especially since his foot is all better. Thompson is no slouch, though, and both guys give USC a great chance of winning.
No matter whether it’s Robinson or Gardner under center for the Wolverines, they’ll habve to stay protected from Jadeveon Clowney and the Cocks defense, who gobble up quarterbacks like they did Bloomin’ Onions. The Michigan O-line is solid, though, so it’ll be a great est for them and for the guys in garnet and black.
Both teams will be without players, as they all violated rules. Michigan won’t have starting corberback J.T. Floyd, punter Will Hagerup, or backup linebacker Brandin Hawthorne, while Carolina will be without wide receiver D.L. Moore and offensive lineman Kyle Harris.
South Carolina was last in the Outback Bowl in 2009, and I think we all remember how well that didn’t go. Let’s all hope that there’s a better outcome this year. I don’t think this is going to be an easy game, but I’m also not sure that the Wolverines can quite hang with the Gamecocks. Michigan was one of the better teams in the Big Ten this year, but that’s not necessarily saying much. Carolina might also have a bit more to play for, as a victory means a second straight 11-win season. I also think they’re just a better team. USC is favored to win this game, and I think they will, with a final score of something like 27-21.
The game kicks off at 1 ET and will be broadcast on ESPN, with Mike Tirico and Jon “THIS GUY!” Gruden on the call.