Michigan, 8-4 (5-4 B1G) vs South Carolina, 8-4 (5-3 SEC)
Line: Michigan -8
Monday, January 1, Noon EST, ESPN2
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa
Michigan kept losing winnable games in 2017 - MSU, OSU, Wisconsin...all within reach for the Wolverines, until terrible QB play intervened at the most inopportune times. As Brandon Peters is #1 on the QB depth chart now, and supposedly healthy and non-concussed, Michigan is expected to win this very winnable game.
No reason to expect anything special from the Wolverines - they want to run Karan Higdon, they want to play-action to set up crossing routes that gash the defense. Peters showed nice touch on his throws and an understanding that throwing terrible passes to random spots is a bad thing - hi there, John O’Korn. The Michigan offensive line is improved...but still not spectacular at pass blocking or power run blocking. When will Michigan develop a top-level O-line? Will it be vaguely soon?
I don’t think anyone doubted the defensive talent on the Michigan roster this year; let’s watch the talented Mo Hurst, Chase Winovich, and Rashan Gary attack and attempt to destroy the SC o-line.
Much has been made of the decision for the Outback Bowl’s decision to choose Michigan over NW and MSU, although Michigan had an inferior record and had lost to MSU...To this I say.../shrug. Bowl games aren’t exactly scientifically chosen matchups anyways.
Do we know much about SC? Not really! The offensive coordinator is out, after fielding the 108th best offense in college football...so that’s not helpful. The Internet generally believes SC will struggle to move the ball against Michigan’s talented defense, as SC cannot run the ball and their most explosive offensive player WR Deebo Samuel is out. Again, unhelpful.
What amounted to a down year for traditionally decent SEC schools benefited SC, who knocked off Tennessee (terrible), Arkansas (terri-bert), and Florida, who hasn’t scored an offensive touchdown since Tebow roamed/prowled the sidelines. The Gamecock fanbase considers this to be an overwhelming team and so the “we’re happy to be here” mantra is probably pretty true in this game.