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Joey Knight’s takeaways from the Outback Bowl

By Joey Knight
South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp celebrates after defeating the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Monday, January 1, 2018. The South Carolina Gamecocks deleted the Michigan Wolverines 26 to 19. The South Carolina Gamecocks defeated the Michigan Wolverines 26 to 19. (Octavio Jones, Times)

1. What a resurrection by Will Muschamp, whom many thought wouldn’t get a sniff at another SEC head coaching job after languishing his final two seasons (2013-14) at Florida. Monday’s triumph gave South Carolina only its seventh season of nine or more wins, and 11 Gamecocks starters in the Outback Bowl were freshmen or sophomores. It’s hardly a stretch to project USC as the No. 2 team in the SEC East entering 2018.

2. While Muschamp has it rolling, Jim Harbaugh is reeling. Monday’s loss gave Harbaugh his first three-game losing streak as Michigan coach, and he’s now a combined 2-7 against Ohio State, Michigan State and in bowl games. They still love him in Ann Arbor, but the limits of that adoration now are being tested. Can’t imagine the Go-Blue contingent settling for another eight- or nine-win campaign.

3. Based on what we heard and observed during Outback Bowl week, interim South Carolina offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon seems the odds-on favorite to land the gig permanently. Players spoke of the energy McClendon brought to meeting rooms, and it’s always a plus when guys have a coach with whom they feel comfortable. That second half Monday (214 yards, 23 points) didn’t hurt McClendon’s cause either.