Those throws and catches
Jake Bentley might not have thrown prettier balls all season than the 21-yard Bryan Edwards touchdown that made it a three-point game and the 53-yard rainbow to Shi Smith to put the Gamecocks up for good in the Outback Bowl win over Michigan.
South Carolina coach Will Muschamp had ruled tailback Rico Dowdle out for the Outback Bowl. Instead, he played and ran for 45 yards on six carries. The most import was a 17-yard option pitch where he cut back and scored the team’s first touchdown of the day.
South Carolina was tough as nails in a low-scoring opening half, and did its best to lock down a solid Michigan running game (2.2 yards a carry). Overall, the Wolverines had fewer than 300 yards, averaged 3.6 per play, converted 2-of-17 third downs and forced five turnovers.
Gamecocks coach Bryan McClendon was taking a beating on social media in the first half, but he was getting creative (though it wasn’t successful). That paid off, and USC averaged 6 yards a play after halftime.
Returner Chris Lammons thought the ball had hit a teammate when he made a ill-fated stab at fielding a punt. Later Jake Bentley and a running back both tried to pull the ball on a zone read and ended up fumbling.
Not so special
Even beyond Lammons’ miscue, special teams had their share of issues. Snapper Ben Asbury ran into a returner, committing a penalty. Kick returner Shi Smith let a kickoff bounce and ended up getting pinned inside the 10-yard line.
That first-half offense
Before the break, USC averaged 3.9 yards per play. The Gamecocks had three first downs and didn’t convert a third down.
The play up front got better as things went on, but USC’s signal caller was sacked three times and hurried on many more against Michigan’s talented, blitz-happy front.