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.
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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.