Michigan running back Ty Issac (88 run attempts, 548 rush yards, 2 TDs) and quarterback Brandon Peters (57.8 comp %, 486 yds, 4 TDs) are both probable. Peters last saw time against Wisconsin back on November 18th. South Carolina wide receiver Shi Smith (26 catches, 350 yds, 2 TDs) also hasn’t played since November 18th with an ankle injury, but he has been updated as probable for the bowl game. Both of the team’s top running backs are still listed as probable as well.
Michigan and South Carolina will kickoff the final day of bowl games at the Outback Bowl in Raymond James Stadium. Both teams end the season with respectable 8-4 records, but the Wolverines especially had bigger aspirations. The Gamecocks finished with an even 2-2 record in November.
Bad quarterback play, running woes makes Wolverines season feel much worse
Michigan is ready to take the next step, but it almost felt like things went backwards this season. Head coach Jim Harbaugh is nowhere near the red seat, but some of the fans will be putting him on thin ice over the coming years — unless he ends up bouncing back into the NFL. Michigan lost their last two games of the season against Wisconsin and Ohio State, continuing a long streak of not being able to take down AP top-10 opponents. Their lead running back, Karan Higdon (147 attempts, 929 yards), was limited to 75 total yards in the last two games.
Much of the issues hover around shaky quarterback play and having a lack of running power in those top-tier matchups. They were thwarted by a differential of over 100 rushing yards in the last two games and against Penn State earlier in the season. Quarterback John O’Korn ended up having the most time under center, but he was dismal with a 53.2 completion percentage and a negative ratio of two touchdowns to six interceptions. Their best receiver, Grant Perry, had only 307 total yards.
Gamecocks should have their hobbled running backs in the bowl game
South Carolina suffered two loses in November, but it looks a lot better when you spin that those defeats came against teams in the College Football Playoff, Georgia and Clemson. The Gamecocks usually pride themselves with their defense, but they’ll be facing a defense even tougher than their own. For this team to succeed, they’ll need their injured running backs to get healthy and play in the contest.
Both A.J. Turner and Rico Dowdle suffered lower body injuries at the end of the season. Turner is nursing an ankle injury while Dowdle suffered a fractured fibula. Both of them are listed as probable, which is big considering their two of the top-three backs on the squad. Turner leads the unit with 517 yards on 92 carries and three scores. Dowdle added 206 yards and a score this season.
- 1-4 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games
- 2-6-1 ATS against teams with a winning record
South Carolina is:
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 bowl games
- 5-0 ATS in their last 5 neutral site games
It certainly feels like the Wolverines have a much worse record than 8-4 with all of their problems. In what will be a grind-it-out game, expect the Gamecocks’ weapons to succeed.
Pick: South Carolina
Points are expected to be a premium with the playing styles of both of these teams. Their offense are limited and the defenses have held teams to an average of 20 points or less. The safest bet is to take the under here.
- Under is 3-0-1 in Wolverines last 4 games after an ATS win
- Under is 8-3 in Gamecocks last 11 games overall