TAMPA — About three hours after South Carolina's Ace Sanders found a seam on his first punt return, his coach found a similarly tantalizing opening for a crack at his rivals.
The MVP of Tuesday's 33-28 win in the Outback Bowl, Sanders' career afternoon was highlighted by a 63-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter. The 2010 Bradenton Manatee graduate also had nine catches for 92 yards, including touchdowns of 4 and 32 yards.
"It's just a real good feeling," he said. "I just want to thank God for giving me the opportunity to showcase my talent."
After the game, Steve Spurrier went to work.
"You're probably wondering how we got him away from Florida and Florida State. They passed on him, said he was too little," he said of the 5-foot-8, 175-pound junior. "But he can play football. That's for sure. That was our good fortune that that happened."
GAMBLING MAN: Twice, Michigan took chances by going for fakes, including a fake punt from its 37 with a one-point lead in the fourth quarter.
Seeing an opening in coverage, the Wolverines snapped the ball to S Floyd Simmons, who looked to be brought down short of the marker. But officials ruled it a first down.
"I asked one of those other refs, 'You know the ball did not touch the first-down marker?' He said, 'I know it didn't,' " Spurrier said. "I said, 'Well, why did you give it to them?' He said, 'I don't know.' "
Michigan went for a fake field goal in the second quarter, shifting out of kick formation before the snap and WR Drew Dileo running 7 yards on fourth and 6. A sack two plays later forced the Wolverines to settle for a 40-yard field goal that cut South Carolina's lead to 21-13.
Breakdowns: Entering Tuesday, the longest play Michigan had allowed this season was 52 yards, against Ohio State. South Carolina had three longer: passes of 56 and 70 yards and QB Connor Shaw's 64-yard run that was South Carolina's longest from scrimmage this season.
LONGEST YET: Michigan uses P Matt Wile for long field goals. He attempted only two in the regular season, connecting from 48 yards. In the third quarter, Wile connected on a career-long and Outback-record 52-yarder. It was a yard longer than Alabama's Phillip Doyle in 1988. He also had punts of 54 and 56 yards (a season high).
THIS AND THAT: Michigan went 3-for-4 on fourth down and 8-for-19 on third down. … Apopka's Jeremy Gallon, a Michigan receiver, set career highs with nine catches for 145 yards. His two touchdowns included the go-ahead score with 3:29 left. … South Carolina has won consecutive bowl games for the first time since the 2001 and 2002 Outback Bowls. Spurrier's three bowl wins are the most in school history. … With three catches (for 27 yards), Michigan fifth-year senior Roy Roundtree finished sixth in school history with 154.