Angelique S. Chengelis of The Detroit News breaks down Monday's Michigan-South Carolina Outbowl Bowl game at Raymond James Stadium (noon, ESPN2/WWJ).
GAMECOCKS TO WATCH
Jake Bentley, QB: The sophomore quarterback has completed 62.4 percent of 362 passes for 2,555 yards with 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions this season. He was ranked No. 1 in the Southeastern Conference in completions per game (18.8), was third in completion percentage, fourth in passing yards, sixth in passing touchdowns, sixth in passing yards per game (212.9) and eighth in total offense (220.1). He ranked seventh in school history this year in single-season passing yards and pass attempts, sixth in pass completions, 10th in completion percentage and 11th in passing touchdowns. Bentley led the team with six rushing touchdowns, all of which came in the final five games. He threw a season-high 304 yards against Kentucky.
Skai Moore, LB: Moore is a senior linebacker who earned first-team All-SEC from the league’s coaches and was second-team by AP. He is about to become just the 15th player in Division I history to lead his team in tackles in four seasons — he has 88 this season, including eight tackles for loss. He is tied for 11th in the SEC with his 88 tackles. He also is tied with Bo Davies (1969-71) for the school career record for interceptions with 14. He has three interceptions this season to lead the team and ranks sixth in the SEC. Moore led the team in tackles in six of 12 games. He will be participating in the Senior Bowl.
More:Detroit News predictions: Michigan vs. South Carolina
A.J. Turner, RB: The redshirt sophomore began the season as South Carolina’s third-string running back and finished the regular season as the Gamecocks’ top rusher with 517 yards on 92 carries and three touchdowns. He also caught 18 passes for 117 yards and returned 11 kicks for a 17.1-yard average. He leads the team with 822 all-purpose yards, an average of 68.5 per game. Turner has had a foot and ankle taped throughout bowl practices and has told South Carolina beat writers he will be ready to play in Outback Bowl.
FACTS AND FIGURES
■ This is the fourth meeting between Michigan and South Carolina and the second time they’ve met in the Outback Bowl. South Carolina won, 33-28, five years ago in the Outback. They split games in the 1980s, with the Gamecocks winning, 17-14, at Michigan Stadium in 1980, and Michigan winning 34-3 in Columbia in 1985.
■ South Carolina is 6-9 all-time against Big Ten teams but that record includes a combined 0-5 record against Nebraska and Penn State when both were not members of the Big Ten.
■ Michigan left tackle Mason Cole will make his program record-tying 51st start in his final game with the Wolverines. Meanwhile, Karan Higdon needs 71 rushing yards for 1,000 this season. Cole and Higdon are among the 10 players on Michigan’s roster from Florida.
■ Bryan McClendon is the interim offensive coordinator for South Carolina and will be calling the plays in the Outback Bowl in what could be considered a job interview. McClendon took over when South Carolina coach Will Muschamp relieved Kurt Roper of his job as offensive coordinator. Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown said he’s not worried about calling defenses against a bit of an unknown play-caller. “You can’t coach against ghosts,” Brown said. “You can’t be looking around the corner, ‘I guess he’s going to do this,’ and then you take your eyes off the prize.”
■ Michigan redshirt freshman quarterback Brandon Peters said he’s looking to make a statement in the bowl game in what will be his fourth start of the season and the first since he was knocked unconscious in the Wisconsin game on Nov. 18. He was held out of the Ohio State game the following week. Peters said that not that he wanted to disparage the opponents he faced — Rutgers, when he came in in the first quarter, Minnesota and Maryland — before Wisconsin, but said playing against a Southeastern Conference opponent is added motivation. He also wants to head into offseason conditioning and spring practice with momentum now that the competition will step up with Dylan McCaffrey, early enrollee Joe Milton and Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson.
■ A season with four losses wasn’t exactly how any of the Wolverines saw the season playing out, and reaching a ninth victory — avoiding a fifth loss — is spurring them on. Michigan and South Carolina are 8-4 and didn’t beat a team with a winning record during the regular season. Added pressure for the Wolverines – they’re the last Big Ten team to play a bowl game and the league is unbeaten so far.