Outback Bowl 2018: Michigan vs South Carolina things to watch

The 2018 Outback Bowl is an American college football bowl game to be played on January 1, 2018 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The 32nd annual Outback Bowl is one of the 2017–18 NCAA football bowl games that concludes the 2017 NCAA Division I FBS football season.

Outback Bowl 2018 Michigan vs South Carolina

Matchup: Michigan (8-4) vs. South Carolina (8-4); Outback Bowl

When: Noon, Jan. 1.

Where: Raymond James Stadium; Tampa, Fla.

TV/radio: ESPN2; WWJ-AM (950), WTKA-AM (1050).

Line: Wolverines by 8.

MICHIGAN WINS IF:

SHEA PATTERSON COULD ACTUALLY SUIT UP: Yes, that Shea Patterson, the one from Ole Miss who is transferring to Ann Arbor for the 2018 season. He would be an awesome choice here for Michigan. Unfortunately, the Wolverines have a dumpster fire at quarterback, with Brandon Peters likely starting in Tampa. His numbers, while definitely not impressive (57%) in 4 starts, he hasn’t thrown an interception yet. But still, if you want to beat a good South Carolina team, Peters, O’Korn, Speight, Harbaugh in Disguise, Patterson in Disguise, etc. will have to be on top of their game to win.

MAKE SOUTH CAROLINA’S OFFENSE AS ONE-DIMENSIONAL AS POSSIBLE: The Gamecocks were a meager 107th in total rushing in 2017. Of course, the passing wasn’t much better either (79th) but it felt like South Carolina when needed to, Jake Bentley made the plays. I would say get to Bentley (SC allowed 26 sacks in 2017, 76th) and Michigan can do that (39 sacks) and make them try to go against the run, which is stout too (20th ranked)

THEY RUN THE BALL EFFECTIVELY: South Carolina wasn’t as strong as what many believe they were on defense in 2017, but they were all right defensively against the run (45th). Michigan has to win the war on the line to generate ANY offense because I don’t think you will get much play from the quarterback. Karan Higdon could have a big day if given the chance.

SOUTH CAROLINA WINS IF:

THEY GET 3 TURNOVERS: Michigan wasn’t horrible with turning the ball over, but wasn’t great either. South Carolina can net a few turnovers here and there. But in a game where scoring is at a premium, setting yourself up for great field position is huge. South Carolina needs 3 of them to go against a great Wolverine D.

JAKE BENTLEY HAS SUCCESS: For the first half of the year, Bentley played great, throwing for 12 TD’s and only 3 INT’s and had success at times airing it out. Then the second half of the year came and it fell apart. He threw for only 4 TD’s and 7 INT’s while throwing for 249 yards was his highest in a win against a Florida team that had thrown in the towel. Bentley needs to play like first half of the season Bentley to stand a chance. Not the best of match-ups against Michigan.

THEY CAN FIND ANY SUCCESS RUNNING THE BALL: South Carolina was abysmal running in 2017. To give some pressure taken off of Bentley, the Gamecocks need to have great games from AJ Turner (assuming he plays) and Tyson Williams. The good news is those two run for about 5 yards per carry but they need to run the ball often and have success often.

Outback Bowl 2018 Prediction

This game may be very ugly. I think whoever gets 17 points wins. Whoever has the best day running the ball, will win the game. My guess is I will go with Michigan in a close one. MICHIGAN 17, SOUTH CAROLINA 16