BY DAILY FOOTBALL BEAT
Published January 1, 2013
TAMPA, Fla. —
At the start of the first quarter, it looked like this one could get ugly in a hurry. On just the third snap of the game, South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw connected on a long, arcing pass to Damiere Byrd for a 56-yard touchdown. Sophomore cornerback Raymon Taylor didn’t bite on a fake or trip, he just got beat badly in a footrace.
But the Michigan defense settled down after the quick strike. The Wolverines forced two straight punts and overcame an interception by junior quarterback Devin Gardner.
No. 19 Michigan added a field goal, set up by a pretty reception by redshirt junior wide receiver Jeremy Gallon, to make the score 7-3.
But the eleventh-ranked Gamecocks struck again on a long, quick score again near the end of the period. Ace Sanders returned a Matt Wile punt 63 yards untouched for a touchdown to extend the lead to 11.
Michigan opened the quarter by looking to senior Denard Robinson early, playing a hybrid quarterback-tailback position. Robinson mixed in runs inside the red zone before Gardner found junior receiver Drew Dileo with a quick shovel pass for a five-yard touchdown.
But just as quickly, South Carolina responded with another big play. Quarterback Dylan Thompson drilled receiver Nick Jones streaking open downfield, leading to a 70-yard pitch-and-catch before Jones was taken down inside the Michigan 5-yard line. Thompson completed the next pass to Sanders for a touchdown to extend the lead to 21-10 with 10:54 remaining in the half
After a Michigan punt, freshman defensive end Mario Ojemudia forced a fumble that was recovered by redshirt sophomore linebacker Jake Ryan at the South Carolina 31-yard line. The Wolverines turned the turnover into three points with a 40-yard field goal by Gibbons that was set up by a fake field goal first-down run by Dileo.
The teams entered halftime by that same score of 21-13. Michigan will receive the ball to open the second half.
The Gamecocks failed to capitalize on a long Shaw run on their first possession of the half. Shaw scampered 64 yards on a keeper all the way to Michigan’s 11-yard line. But three incompletions and an illegal formation later, Adam Yates missed a 33-yard field goal attempt wide right.
On the following Michigan possession, the Wolverines drove 45 yards, thanks again to a 17-yard reception by Gallon, to set up a 52-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Matt Wile — an Outback Bowl record for longest field goal, breaking the 51-yard mark set in 1988. The score cut the South Carolina lead to 21-16
After South Carolina took over, the Wolverines’ defense bent but again didn’t break. After allowing a 37-yard reception, Michigan held on a fourth down to force a turnover on downs.
Michigan took over and relied heavily on rushes by Robinson and Gardner to march down the field. At the end of the quarter, Robinson needed just six yards to tie the all-time record for rushing yards by a quarterback.
With just seconds left in the period, Gardner found Gallon in the corner of the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown pass. The Wolverines took a one-point lead into the fourth quarter after failing to convert on the two-point conversion.
The Gamecocks went right down the field on their first drive of the quarter, with Shaw continuing to find yards through the air. Finally stopped by Michigan, they lined up to attempt a go-ahead field goal, but redshirt junior defensive tackle Quinton Washington blocked it for the Wolverines’ first blocked kick of the season.
Things only got crazier from there. The Michigan offense stalled close to midfield but Michigan coach Brady Hoke ran a fake punt and Floyd Simmons picked up the first down — barely. The South Carolina sideline was incensed at the call, which was upheld after a review.
But on the next play, the Wolverines somehow didn’t even get a hand on star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who blew up the handoff to fifth-year senior running back Vincent Smith, and the Gamecocks collected the fumble. On the next play after that, Shaw tossed a 31-yard touchdown pass to put South Carolina up, 27-22. (The two-point conversion attempt was no good.)
The Wolverines responded when they got the ball back. Gardner threw his third touchdown pass of the day to allow Michigan to retake the lead, 28-27, with another failed two-point conversion.
But Shaw led the Gamecocks down the field as linebacker Jibreel Black failed to finish a sack that could've pushed South Carolina out of position to win the game. With 11 seconds left, Shaw found wide receiver Bruce Ellington near the goal line for the game-winning score.