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Outback Bowl: South Carolina vs. Michigan

Frank Schwab
Dr. Saturday

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(USA Today Sports Images)

Outback Bowl
South Carolina (10-2) vs. Michigan (8-4)
Jan. 1, 1 p.m. ET (ESPN)

About the Gamecocks: Rarely do people tune in to see a defensive end play, but Jadeveon Clowney is a pretty special player. South Carolina's defensive star is almost certainly going to be the top overall pick in the NFL Draft in 2014 (he's not eligible for the 2013 draft, even though he could be an impact NFL player tomorrow, because of the unfair three-year draft eligibility rule). He changes the entire game plan for opposing offenses who must account for him on just about every play. Clowney will be matched up most of the game against Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan, a great player in his own right and a probably first-round pick if he decides to leave after this year. Connor Shaw, South Carolina's oft-injured but effective quarterback, will start but Dylan Thompson will also play at quarterback for the Gamecocks according to coach Steve Spurrier.

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(USA Today Sports Images)

About the Wolverines: Michigan's plan in its regular-season finale against Ohio State is still baffling. Instead of using quarterbacks Devin Gardner and Denard Robinson together on the field, which was a devastating combination against Iowa when the Wolverines unveiled it, Michigan shuttled the quarterbacks in and out, ruining the rhythm for both of them. Gardner has shown he is more than capable of moving the offense. Gardner is going to start, Michigan coach Brady Hoke has said. Robinson, playing in his last college game, will contribute plenty as well. How the Wolverines plan to use their quarterback combination this game remains to be seen.

Key number: 11
South Carolina set a school record with 11 wins last season, and can tie that record with a win over Michigan. The Gamecocks' only two losses this season came in back-to-back weeks at then-No. 1 LSU and then-No. 2 Florida.

The breakdown: The last time Michigan played against an elite SEC team, the results weren't pretty. Alabama blew out the Wolverines during a season-opening game at Dallas. While Michigan needed last-second miracles to beat Michigan State and Northwestern, it did get to eight wins and has a chance to legitimize its season against a really good South Carolina team. South Carolina seems like the forgotten team among the elite SEC squads, but it is a strong program that can create a lot of offseason buzz with a win against Michigan.

Predictions
Frank Schwab: South Carolina 34, Michigan 17

Let's see, a top-tier SEC team against a Big Ten team that was 8-4 and was a little lucky to get to eight wins? Easy call. Go back and check out Michigan's trouble against a talented SEC team in Alabama. This game will look a lot like that.

Graham Watson: South Carolina 35, Michigan 21
Michigan has had its moments this year, but it hasn't faced a team like South Carolina and it doesn't match up well. The Gamecocks speed on defense will be too much for Michigan and that will be the difference.

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