Gamecocks roar back, defeat Michigan in Outback Bowl
From the USC Athletics Department
Jake Bentley threw for 239 yards and two touchdowns Monday to pace USC to a 26-19 win over Michigan in the Outback Bowl.
The sophomore said once the Gamecocks began to have some success, the offense’s confidence grew.
”It’s just we started to execute well. The excitement, I think, is contagious to the whole team,” Bentley, voted the game’s most valuable player, said. ”You see where we went from there.”
Michigan (8-5) finished with its first three-game losing streak under coach Jim Harbaugh. The Wolverines turned the ball over five times after halftime, including an end zone interception that denied them an opportunity to regain the lead with just under eight minutes to go.
The loss also cost the Big Ten a clean sweep of bowl games involving conference members. The league entered 7-0, looking to go unbeaten in postseason play for the first time since 1998 when it went 5-0.
”We don’t have all the trophies and the tradition and history but we have some grit,” USC coach Will Muschamp said after the Gamecocks rallied from a 16-point second-half deficit to beat Michigan 26-19 in Monday’s Outback Bowl.
”We’ve got some toughness and resolve. You saw us down 19-3 and not a lot of good things happening for us,” Muschamp added. ”All the arrows are pointing up for us. We’re going to have those trophies.”
”We kind of let them hang around and they took advantage of it,” Harbaugh said. ”They got better as the game went on. We didn’t get the knockout punch when we needed it.”
Bentley was 19 of 32 passing with one interception. Rico Dowdle, playing for first time since breaking his leg against Tennessee on Oct. 14, began South Carolina’s comeback from a 19-3 deficit with a 17-yard TD run.
Brandon Peters had a tough day for Michigan, completing 20 of 44 passes for 186 yards and two interceptions. His second pick, with 1:05 remaining, sealed South Carolina’s second Outback Bowl victory over the Wolverines in five years.
”There’s some really good, and there’s a few I know he’d like to have back,” Harbaugh said. ”But he was battling just like the rest of the guys. There was some error there, a little too much at the wrong time.”
Quinn Nordin accounted for most of Michigan’s scoring, kicking field goals of 35, 26, 45 and 48 yards. Fullback Ben Mason scored on a 1-yard run in helping Michigan build its 16-point lead.
- South Carolina scored 23 unanswered points in the second half, overcoming a 16-point deficit to defeat Michigan 26-19 in the 2018 Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla.
- Quarterback Jake Bentley was named the Outback Bowl MVP after finishing 19-of-32 for 239 yards with a pair of TDs.
- The Gamecocks finish the season with nine wins, which is tied for the fifth highest in school history.
- South Carolina now leads the overall series with Michigan, 3-1, with the Gamecocks winning the last two meetings, both in the Outback Bowl.
- South Carolina’s captains for the game were #8 D.J. Wonnum, #10 Skai Moore, #19 Jake Bentley and #81 Hayden Hurst.
- Attendance at Raymond James Stadium was 45,687
- South Carolina moves its bowl record to 9-13 and its Outback Bowl record to 4-1.
- South Carolina is now 7-9 against teams in the Big Ten Conference.
- The Gamecocks have 10 players that started all 13 games this season: QB Jake Bentley, WR Bryan Edwards, TE Hayden Hurst, C Alan Knott, DT Taylor Stallworth, DE D.J. Wonnum, LB T.J. Brunson, LB Skai Moore, S Chris Lammons and CB JaMarcus King.
- Twelve seniors (Cory Helms, Hayden Hurst, Ulric Jones, JaMarcus King, Alan Knott, Chris Lammons, Skai Moore, D.J. Park, Dante Sawyer, Demetrius Smalls, D.J. Smith, Taylor Stallworth) played their final game in a Gamecock uniform.
- CB Keisean Nixon made his first career start in the Michigan game.
South Carolina recovered one of its five forced turnovers with 57 seconds left in third quarter and struck on the next play with a 21-yard pass from Jake Bentley to Bryan Edwards, cutting Michigan’s lead to 19-16. After the Gamecock defense forced Michigan to punt, Bentley found Shi Smith for a 53-yard touchdown pass to give South Carolina the lead for good.
23 — South Carolina scored 23 straight points in the second half to give the Gamecocks the 26-19 win. Carolina was down 19-3 with 5:42 left in the third quarter but went on a six-play 77-yard drive that ended with a 17-yard run from Rico Dowdle with 2:25 left in the quarter. South Carolina took the lead for good on a 53-yard touchdown pass from Jake Bentley to Shi Smith with 11:33 left in the game.
South Carolina ends the season 9-4 with an Outback Bowl win, a 5-3 win in conference play and wins over Michigan, N.C. State, Tennessee and Florida. The Gamecocks open the 2018 season September 1 against Coastal Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium.