Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Colleges

South Carolina scores 23 unanswered to top Michigan in Outback Bowl

TAMPA — At one point, the 32nd Outback Bowl seemed destined to feature more TV timeouts than first downs.

On a chilly, overcast afternoon, Michigan and South Carolina were waging a defensive grudge match that likely had old-schoolers binging on nostalgia and millennials binge-watching Netflix. At halftime, the teams had combined for only 186 first-half yards and two third-down conversions in 17 tries.

Then, almost without warning, South Carolina’s offense entered the year 2018.

Before an announced Raymond James Stadium audience of 45,867, a game of three-and-outs evolved into ebbs and flows. Trailing by 16 in the second half, South Carolina (9-4) rallied for 23 unanswered points en route to a 26-19 triumph.

"We don’t have all the trophies and the tradition and the history, but we’ve got some grit," said second-year Gamecocks coach (and former Gators coach) Will Muschamp, whose team is 10-3 in one-score games on his watch.

"Our players understand how to win close ball games."

Sparked initially by their defense, the Gamecocks forced Michigan to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns. Michigan (8-5) got four of them from sophomore Quinn Nordin, but committed five second-half turnovers, two inside the USC 5-yard line.

The Gamecocks converted two of them into points.

"They got better as the game went on, no doubt, and made plays to win the football game," said Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, whose team -— 11th in the Associated Press preseason poll — dropped its last three games.

"We didn’t get the knockout punch when we needed it. Didn’t take advantage of the opportunities that were there."

In a de facto interview for interim offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon, South Carolina finished with 300 total yards after managing only 89 in the first half. Quarterback Jake Bentley (19-of-32, 239 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) was named bowl MVP.

"I thought Bryan McClendon did an outstanding job preparing our football team offensively and the entire offensive staff going into this game," Muschamp said.

Facing the nation’s third-ranked defense (268.6 ypg), the Gamecocks didn’t reach the red zone until the final three minutes of the third period, when they capped a 77-yard drive on Rico Dowdle’s 17-yard touchdown sweep, cutting their deficit to 19-9.

They added touchdowns on each of their next two drives. The second score, following a fumble by Wolverines quarterback Brandon Peters, came on Bentley’s 21-yard pass to Bryan Edwards on a simple post route.

They took their first lead, 23-19, when receiver Shi Smith got behind his coverage and hauled in a deep Bentley throw for 53-yard touchdown with 11:33 remaining.

"(McClendon) told us we were gonna be aggressive and challenge these guys, and that’s what we went out and did," Bentley said.

"The guys made plays, and. … everyone had complete confidence in him. I think it showed through bowl practice. I think we scored more touchdowns on our defense in bowl practice than we did all season."

Peters, who like McClendon also was participating in a de facto interview for a full-time job in 2018, finished 20-of-44 for 186 yards and two picks. He went 4-of-4 for 54 yards on UM’s only touchdown drive, giving it a 16-3 lead early in the third, but six of his team’s final eight drives netted 11 or fewer yards.

Three of those drives ended with turnovers.

"We kinda let ’em hang around," Harbaugh said, "and they took advantage of it."

Contact Joey Knight at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

     
     
Comments
ESPN: Antonio Callaway tested positive for marijuana at NFL combine

ESPN: Antonio Callaway tested positive for marijuana at NFL combine

Former Florida Gators receiver Antonio Callaway's off-field struggles continue.ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Tuesday evening that Callaway tested positive for marijuana at the NFL's scouting combine.Former Florida WR Antonio Callaway -- who some cons...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Report: Florida Gators’ Cece Jefferson out four months after shoulder surgery

Report: Florida Gators’ Cece Jefferson out four months after shoulder surgery

Florida Gators defensive lineman Cece Jefferson will be out four months after having surgery on his right shoulder earlier this week, according to a report Wednesday evening from the Gainesville Sun.Jefferson, a 6-foot-1, 242-pound senior, injured th...
Published: 04/18/18
Florida has signed 15 quarterbacks since Tim Tebow. 10 have transferred

Florida has signed 15 quarterbacks since Tim Tebow. 10 have transferred

Tuesday evening's news that quarterback Jake Allen plans to transfer from the Florida Gators isn't a surprise.Allen, a former three-star recruit in 2017, was fourth on the depth chart. The St. Thomas Aquinas product didn't seem to fit new coach ...
Published: 04/18/18
Auden Tate will be the third FSU receiver drafted in 11 years. Why so few?

Auden Tate will be the third FSU receiver drafted in 11 years. Why so few?

When former Wharton High star Auden Tate hears his name called sometime next week, he'll join a surprisingly small group.Recent Florida State receivers drafted into the NFL.Over the past decade, only two Seminoles receivers have been drafted: Rashad ...
Published: 04/18/18
Police suspected FSU’s Deondre Francois intended to sell marijuana

Police suspected FSU’s Deondre Francois intended to sell marijuana

Tallahassee police suspected Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois possessed marijuana with the intent to sell it when they executed a search warrant on his home last week, according to an affidavit.The case — which culminated Thursda...
Published: 04/17/18
Florida State takes over No. 1 spot in 2019 recruiting rankings

Florida State takes over No. 1 spot in 2019 recruiting rankings

Even as Florida State was finishing its first recruiting class under Willie Taggart, the Seminoles were already talking about what they could do in the new staff's first full cycle, for 2019."I can only imagine having a year here to be able to recrui...
Published: 04/17/18
Former five-star back Khalan Laborn rejuvenated after FSU coaching change

Former five-star back Khalan Laborn rejuvenated after FSU coaching change

TALLAHASSEE – Florida State running back Khalan Laborn's breakout 140-yard output in Saturday night's spring game was a sign of what could be for the former blue-chip recruit.It was also a reminder of what almost wasn't for the Seminoles.With a...
Published: 04/16/18
New Orlando football team will welcome Steve Spurrier on Tuesday night

New Orlando football team will welcome Steve Spurrier on Tuesday night

Steve Spurrier will make one of his first appearances in his new role with the Alliance of American Football tomorrow in Orlando.The league will welcome Spurrier as the coach of its Orlando team at an event at Ember (42 W Central Blvd.) at an event f...
Published: 04/16/18
Five takeaways from Florida State’s spring football game

Five takeaways from Florida State’s spring football game

TALLAHASSEE – Judging by the crowd for Florida State's spring game on Saturday, Seminoles fans are excited about the dawn of the Willie Taggart era.The official attendance of 53,974 — a new record for a spring game — inclu...
Published: 04/14/18
Five takeaways from the Florida Gators’ spring game

Five takeaways from the Florida Gators’ spring game

GAINESVILLE —It took some time, but the offense scored points in bunches, much to the delight of the 53,015 in attendance at Florida's spring game.And the Gators had fun doing it, pulling out all the stops with gadgets and celebrations that bro...
Published: 04/14/18