Michigan raced out to a comfortable lead in the Outback Bowl on Monday afternoon, but South Carolina couldn’t help but make things interesting, taking its first lead in the fourth quarter. In the end, South Carolina came out victorious with a 26-19 come-from-behind win.
This game acted as a job interview, or sorts, for quarterback Brandon Peters who is looking to keep his starting job even with Ole Miss’ Shea Patterson transferring in.
It wasn’t his best showing. The young gunslinger was inaccurate early on and although he improved slightly in the second half, he threw a crucial interception in the end zone with just under eight minutes to go in the game. He finished 20-of-44 for 186 yards and two interceptions.
South Carolina’s offense was quiet for most of the game, thanks to a suffocating effort by Michigan (8-5), but Jake Bentley turned it on late, finishing with 239 passing yards and two touchdowns.
The Wolverines became the Big Ten’s only loss during bowl season as the conference finished 7-1 and South Carolina (9-4) gave the SEC a much-needed win.
Peters throws another pick
The Wolverines got the ball to start at their own 31. Brandon Peters hit Donovan Peoples-Jones for eight yards on first down. He then rushed for a yard on second. His pass was batted away on third down to set up a huge fourth-and-1 play to decide the game. He then threw an interception to seal the game.
South Carolina misses long field goal
South Carolina got the ball at the 25 of Michigan and Jake Bentley nearly fumbled the first snap, but jumped on it to avoid disaster. Michigan then forced South Carolina back six yards to force a long field goal try. Parker White's 48-yard attempt was not long enough and Michigan would take over.
Michigan turns it over on downs
A touchback gave Michigan the ball at its own 25. Donovan Peoples-Jones dropped a first-down pass from Brandon Peters and then he missed Nico Collins slightly on second down. On third-and-10, Peters threw into coverage on a crossing route and it fell incomplete. Michigan lined up to go for it on fourth down from its own 25. Peters completely sailed a pass to Kekoa Crawford to turn the ball over.
Gamecocks extend lead thanks to muffed punt
On the first play after the pick, Rico Dowdle busted a 30-yard run against Michigan's defense. At midfield, Hayden Hurst took a handoff and was forced back about four yards after being hit immediately. Later, on third-and-14, Jake Bentley scrambled for about 10 yards. On the punt, Michigan's Donovan Peoples-Jones muffed it and South Carolina recovered at the Wolverines' 14. Mike McCray went down with an injury on a second-down run by South Carolina for a loss of yardage. Jake Bentley needed to get to the 4-yard-line, but rushed to the 5. Parker White nailed a 22-yard chip-shot field goal. South Carolina led 26-19.
Peters throws crucial pick
Ambry Thomas took the ensuing kickoff to Michigan's 20. Zach Gentry then caught a Brandon Peters pass for 12 yards and a first down. He was then nearly sacked but Peters' facemask was grabbed and South Carolina received a personal foul penalty. The redshirt sophomore quarterback would leave the game with an injury. John O'Korn came in and hit Kekoa Crawford for 17 yards on his first play. Peters came back after a South Carolina injury delay and he hit Donovan Peoples-Jones for 15 yards and a first down and then Karan Higdon picked up another with an 11-yard rush. On third-and-goal from the South Carolina 5-yard-line, Peters threw an interception in the end zone.
South Carolina takes first lead
South Carolina started the drive with the ball at its own 19. Jake Bentley was sacked on the first play by a host of Wolverines thanks to good coverage down the field. Bentley then couldn't throw it accurately to Bryan Edwards, setting up third-and-long. On a scramble, Bentley miraculously found tight end Hayden Hurst for 23 yards and a big first down. Shi Smith took a pass for seven yards and then South Carolina hit Randrecous Davis for a first down. Bentley found Smith down the field for a long 53-yard touchdown, giving the Gamecocks their first lead, 23-19.
Questionable play-calling ends Michigan drive
After a touchback, Brandon Peters' first-down throw just missed Sean McKeon. On second-and-10, Peters hit Donovan Peoples-Jones for a short peel-back route and he took it 14 yards for a first down to end the quarter. Karan Higdon began the fourth quarter with a rush for no gain and then Peters just missed McKeon who dropped a low pass which was heavily covered over the middle. On third-and-10, Michigan was flagged for a false start. Higdon then rushed for a short gain to force a punt.
South Carolina scores right away
South Carolina took advantage of a Sean McKeon fumble as Jake Bentley found Bryan Edwards for 21 yards and a leaping touchdown grab. Michigan held on to a 19-16 lead.
Michigan fumbles yet again
A short kick return by Ambry Thomas gave the Wolverines the ball at their own 14-yard-line to start. Karan Higdon took a first-down handoff eight yards and then was stuffed on second-and-2. Sean McKeon then couldn't handle a handoff cleanly, fumbling it and South Carolina recovers.
Gamecocks finally reach end zone
South Carolina's drive started at its own 23. Rico Dowdle took a short pass from Jake Bentley for 19 yards and a first down to the South Carolina 42. Dowdle then rushed for no gain and Michigan jumped offsides on second-and-10 to give South Carolina five free yards. Randrecous Davis caught a 3-yard pass and South Carolina took a timeout to talk things over on third-and-2. Bentley completed a pass to Dowdle for 11 yards and a first down. South Carolina looked to keep things rolling with another first-down pass, but it was called back for an illegal man downfield penalty.
Bentley then completed a 10-yard pass to Hayden Hurst, but a personal foul on Josh Metellus gave South Carolina the ball at Michigan's 17. Dowdle then rushed for a touchdown to give the Gamecocks their first non-field goal score. They would go for two, but Bentley's pass was batted down and Michigan led 19-9.
Quinn Nordin hits 48-yard FG
Michigan's drive started at the South Carolina 32. A 4-yard run by Chris Evans then set up a 2-yard loss from the back. Brandon Peters couldn't hit a pass on third own to set up a field goal. Quinn Nordin hit a 48-yard field goal to extend the lead to 19-3.
South Carolina can't muster any offense
The Gamecocks started the drive inside their own 5-yard-line and Jake Bentley was nearly sacked in the end zone but found Bryan Edwards for four yards. He then tossed the next two passes out of bounds and at the ground, respectively, to avoid sacks. South Carolina would punt again.
Karan Higdon coughs up costly fumble
After the Noah Furbush interception, Michigan started at South Carolina's 27. An incompletion by Brandon Peters and a short run by Karan Higdon set up third-and-long. Peters then hit Donovan Peoples-Jones who was hit hard short of the first down, but South Carolina was flagged for targeting. DJ Smith was disqualified from the game. The very next play, Higdon fumbled the ball and South Carolina recovered inside its own 5-yard-line.
Furbush gets first career pick
South Carolina would start the drive at its own 26. Devin Bush stuffed an A.J. Turner run for no gain and Jake Bentley couldn't find an open receiver cleanly to force third-and-10. A tipped pass down the seam ended up in Noah Furbush's hands for an interception and he returned it all the way to the South Carolina 27.
Peters starts second half strong
Brandon Peters started the second half strong with two completions to Donavan Peoples-Jones for a total of 14 yards and a first down. Nico Collins then caught a jump ball for 13 yards. On the next play, Peters connected with Kekoa Crawford for 27 yards on arguably his best pass of the day. Karan Higdon looked like he would be tackled in the backfield, but he got to the edge and rushed for 16 yards down to the one and Ben Mason punched it in from a yard out to take a 16-3 lead.
Gamecocks don't must much to start second half
South Carolina got the ball to start the second half and a touchback gave the Gamecocks the ball at the 25. Moe Denson rushed for four yards and Randrecous Davis caught an 8-yard pass for a first down. Two incompletions by Jake Bentley set up third-and-10 and he was then sacked to forced a punt.
Quinn Nordin wins first-half MVP
Karan Higdon took a dump-down from Brandon Peters about 11 yards for a first down on the opening play of the drive. Two plays later, he scrambled and rushed for six yards before getting his third-down pass batted down at the line of scrimmage. On fourth-and-4, Peters hit Sean McKeon for 10 yards and a crucial first down. Peters then hit Chris Evans on a short pass for about six yards but an incompletion on second down forced a field goal try to end the half. Quinn Nordin hit a 45-yarder to take a 9-3 lead at the half.
South Carolina's special teams struggle
A near-fumble to start the South Carolina drive was picked up by Jake Bentley and smartly tossed incomplete. A.J. Turner then rushed for eight yards but Michigan's third-down defense continued to dominate as the running back lost two yards on a third-and-2 handoff. On the punt, Donovan Peoples-Jones was run into by South Carolina's long snapper, a 15-yard penalty.
Defensive battle continues
Donovan Peoples-Jones took a handoff for a 5-yard loss and then Brandon Peters hit Kekoa Crawford for two yards. A third-and-13 play resulted in a 2-yard gain to Nico Collins through the air.
South Carolina goes three-and-out
South Carolina started at its own 35 and the fist play was a short dump-down pass from Jake Bentley to Rico Dowdle for two yards. Randrecous Davis then caught an 8-yard pass for a first down, but it was reviewed and he was ruled a yard short. On third-and-1, Dowdle rushed for no gain as Maurice Hurst stuffed the run.
Michigan goes three-and-out
After hitting a 44-yard field goal, Parker White booted the ensuing kickoff out of bounds for a penalty and Michigan would start at its own 35. Karan Higdon ran just twice for five yards and Brandon Peters faced another third down. He tossed it incomplete toward the sideline, forcing another punt for Michigan.
Field goal gets South Carolina on the board
Another short punt by Michigan gave South Carolina the ball at its own 29. Jake Bentley hit Bryan Edwards for 38 yards down to the Michigan 33. A.J. Turner then rushed for eight yards. Tyree Kinnel then made an impressive play on a Ship Smith catch for a loss of a yard and Khaleke Hudson batted down Bentley's screen attempt. South Carolina would attempt a 44-yard field goal and drill it, making it 6-3 in favor of Michigan.
Peters' inaccurate day continues
The Gamecocks' punt rolled to the Wolverines' 35. Brandon Peters' first-down pass was batted down and Karan Higdon took the next handoff for just one yard. Peters then hit Zach Gentry on third-and-9 for 15 yards. A deep throw to the end zone was nearly picked off by South Carolina. Higdon rushed for three yards to set up third-and-7. Peters was then sacked to force a Michigan punt.
South Carolina's offense struggles mightily
South Carolina returned the ensuing kickoff to its own 19. Ty'Son Williams rushed for eight yards to end the first quarter. Hayden Hurst took the opening handoff in the second quarter and lost a yard and then a short pass went for negative yardage as well, forcing another punt.
Wolverines hit another FG
Michigan started the drive at South Carolina's 31 after the fumble. Brandon Peters took a shot at the end zone, but it was just out of the reach of Zach Gentry. Karan Higdon then rushed for three yards. On third-and-7, Peters was rushed and forced to throw it away, but South Carolina was flagged for a facemask to give Michigan a first down inside South Carolina's 20. Peters dumped a pass down to Chris Evans for five yards. He then rushed for a yard and Michigan faced third down again. Peters then threw the ball away as he was being pulled down again and Quinn Nordin came out for his second field goal. He drilled a 26-yarder and Michigan took a 6-0 lead.
Michigan gets second takeaway
South Carolina fielded the ensuing kickoff poorly, getting tackled at its own 6-yard-line. Jake Bentley hit Bryan Edwards for 13 yards and South Carolina's first first down. The two then hooked up again for another 13 yards and a first down. However, Bentley fumbled the next handoff attempt and Chase Winovich recovered to give the Wolverines the ball deep in South Carolina territory.
Muffed punt gives Michigan life
A muffed punt by South Carolina gave Michigan the football at the Gamecocks' 46-yard-line. Brandon Peters couldn't seem to get anything going, missing his first two passes as third-and-10 approached. He then hit Kekoa Crawford on a flat route for 12 yards and the game's only first down. Chris Evans then rushed for 10 yards and another first. Evans was cut down at the line of scrimmage for no gain and a short pass to Crawford made it third-and-7. Nate Schoenle caught a short pass, short of a first, and Michigan would attempt a 35-yard field goal. Quinn Nordin nailed it to give Michigan a 3-0 lead.
Offense can't seem to get going
Michigan started at its own 12 and Karan Higdon took the first-down carry five yards to the 17. He took the next carry on second down to the 18. A false started made a third-and-short less manageable. On third-and-9, Brandon Peters scrambled and hit Donovan Peoples-Jones for a first down, but an ineligible player down field penalty pushed Michigan back again and negated the first. Peters then hit Nico Collins on the sideline, but he couldn't get a foot down inbounds, forcing another punt.
Gamecocks punt again
Michigan's second punt went just 31 yards to its own 41. South Carolina started with good field position but a short run and sack by Khaleke Hudson set up third-and-long. Jake Bentley then sailed a pass to the sideline and South Carolina punted yet again.
Wolverines surrender field position
Donovan Peoples-Jones took the South Carolina punt and ran backwards inside Michigan's 5-yard-line before being tackled. Chris Evans picked up three yards on first down to the Michigan 7 and then rushed for another three to set up third-and-4. A solid pass by Brandon Peters to Kekoa Crawford down the sideline was nearly completed, but broken up at the last second by South Carolina. Michigan would punt again.
South Carolina's first drive flies by
A 28-yard punt by Michigan gave South Carolina the ball at its own 37. Jake Bentley completed a pass to Hayden Hurst for six yards, but the next two passes in a hurry-up offense were incomplete and the Gamecocks possessed the ball for less than a minute.
Michigan opens with three-and-out
The 2018 Outback Bowl started with a kick out of bounds by South Carolina, giving Michigan good field position at its own 35. Karan Higdon took the opening pitch and ran to his left for just a yard. Brandon Peters then completed his first pass to Sean McKeon for six yards before getting sacked and Michigan was forced to punt.
Michigan vs. South Carolina
Kickoff: Noon Monday, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
Records: Michigan 8-4, South Carolina 8-4
Line: Michigan by 7.5