TAMPA, Fla. - It will be 10-2 South Carolina versus 8-4 Michigan playing in the Outback Bowl in Tampa. South Carolina is trying to close out the most successful three-year run with the second 11-win season in school history.
Three of the Wolverines' four losses came against the top three teams in the Associated Press poll -- Notre Dame, Alabama and Ohio State -- heading into the postseason.
Michigan was off to a slow start in the first quarter after South Carolina scored right away with a 63-yard punt return which lead to a touchdown by Ace Sanders.
At the end of the first quarter South Carolina led Michigan 14-3.
Michigan scored quickly at the top of the second - making the score 14-10.
South Carolina came back quickly with another touchdown with 10:54 in the second making the score 21-10.
Michigan answered with a field goal with 2:47 in the 2nd, making it 21-13. Michigan then notched a field goal to tighten the score in the 3rd quarter, 21-16.
Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner then lead the Wolverines on a long drive, completing a 4th and 1 conversion and marching the ball down near the Gamecocks end zone where he threw a touchdown pass. However, Michigan did not make the two-point conversion.
The score was 22-21, with the Wolverines on top for the first time in the afternoon.
South Carolina recovered a Michigan fumble midway through the 4th quarter, setting up a touchdown. They failed on a two-point conversion attempt, but retained the lead at 27-22.
Michigan later roared back with a touchdown of their own. However, they again fell short on the two-point conversion.
But South Carolina was not done. They rushed down the field in the final minute to score on a passing play, taking the lead with 11 seconds remaining, 33-28.
South Carolina's Connor Shaw and Michigan's Devin Gardner will start at quarterback in the Outback Bowl, however that doesn't mean Dylan Thompson and Denard Robinson won't play meaningful roles in the New Year's Day matchup.
---Wolverines coach Brady Hoke
Wolverines coach Brady Hoke, meanwhile, is sticking with the plan Michigan has followed since Robinson injured his right elbow in late October, with Gardner playing quarterback instead of receiver and Robinson primarily contributing in ways that doesn't require him to throw the ball.
"Connor Shaw has been our starter. I always sort of believe you should tell one guy it's his game unless he gets hurt or it really goes terribly wrong and you have to make a change," Spurrier said, clarifying South Carolina's situation two days after saying he wasn't sure how he might utilize his talented passers.
"Connor's been our starter pretty much all year. We all feel he's 100 percent healthy, so right now we're going in into it that: 'It's your game, let's go. Don't worry about making a mistake and getting jerked out or anything like that,'" Spurrier added. "Dylan is going to play, though."
Thompson threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns against Clemson to help No. 11 South Carolina (10-2) win for the fourth straight time following consecutive losses to LSU and Florida that derailed the Gamecocks' hopes of getting to the Southeastern Conference championship game.
A win Tuesday over No. 19 Michigan (8-4) would allow the Gamecocks to match the school record of 11 victories set last season, as well as cap the most successful three-year run in South Carolina history.
"We're very proud. We could have easily took those two losses back to back and just gave up on this season," Gamecocks linebacker Damario Jeffery said.
"We had some lofty goals coming off last season. We wanted to make a national championship (run). When you lose two games back to back, that kind of takes all those goals away," Jeffery added. "A lot of people's heads were down. All the seniors, we got together and said: 'The season is not over. We don't want to go down as that team to have a good year and then come back and have a losing season."
While Spurrier said he hopes to stick with Shaw, who's started 10 games and thrown for 1,732 yards and 15 TDs, for most of the game, Hoke was non-committal about how much — and more specifically where — Robinson will play for Michigan.
The Wolverines won three straight after losing Robinson during the first half of a 14-point loss to Nebraska on Oct. 27, the last time the dual threat quarterback threw a pass in a game. He sat out the following two weeks, before contributing as a runner and receiver the final two games of the regular season.
---University of Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson
"Really how we finished the year ... the last three of four ball games is how we'll play it out," Hoke said, adding that Gardner will start and Robinson, who has thrown some since the Wolverines arrived in Florida to continue preparation for Michigan's 42nd bowl appearance, will play "some quarterback."
"Everything is possible with him," Hoke said Monday.
"We're going to try him in a variety of different roles. We'll see what he's capable of, but he's had a month to heal," offensive coordinator Al Borges added. "He'll be involved, that's for sure. He's throwing the ball better all the time."
Both teams have prepared for the prospect of facing two quarterbacks.
Hoke said Shaw and Thompson both have demonstrated they can be effective for South Carolina, noting that the Gamecocks have continued to be successful despite losing star running back Marcus Lattimore to injury.
"You look at the body of work with the offense; they lost a tremendous running back and were able to put a couple of guys in there that run the ball hard and do a nice job within the offense," Hoke said. "I think quarterback-wise, Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson are both very good quarterbacks. In their big rivalry game they don't have Shaw and Thompson goes in and wins ... on the road."
South Carolina feels the same way about Gardner and Robinson, who's thrown for 1,319 yards and nine touchdowns, while rushing for 1,166 yards and seven TDs this season.
The Michigan senior needs one passing TD to become the first player in Big Ten history to throw for 50 TDs and also rush for 40.
"He's a great athlete. A great playmaker. We're going to try and contain him and limit what he does," Gamecocks linebacker Shaq Wilson said. "It's a headache for the defense. I'm excited. I like a great challenge, and all my teammates like a great challenge."
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