Outback Bowl Odds
Brady Hoke and his Michigan Wolverines face off in this season’s Outback Bowl against Steve Spurrier and the South Carolina Gamecocks. The two squads will meet on Tuesday, New Year’s Day at 1:00 PM ET in Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Oddsmakers have installed the Gamecocks as 5-point favorites in the game, while they’ve set the total at 48 points.
Why Michigan Covers the Spread
The Wolverines have become a much more defensive minded team under Brady Hoke and so far the results have been solid. Michigan was the second-best pass defense in the nation, allowing just 155.2 yards per game and finished the regular season ranked 16th in scoring defense, allowing just 18.8 points per game.
Michigan’s stats won’t wow you on offense, but part of that reason is because their defense has given the team a shorter field, leading to more points in fewer yards. Case in point, the Wolverines ranked just 82 in total yards per game at 385.4, but 58th in points scored per game at 30. The strength of this offense is the running game, which averaged 187 yards per game on 4.9 yards per carry, which ranks with the best rushing teams that South Carolina has played this season.
In order to win this game and/or cover the spread, the Wolverines need to continue their stingy pass defense, while finding ways to score on a very solid South Carolina defense. Their best chance to do this will be through the air, where the Gamecocks have been most vulnerable this year. This will mean that quarterback Devin Gardner will be the best option to start under center, as he is the better throwing option than the speedy, but mistake-prone, Denard Robinson. Despite playing behind Robinson most of the season, Gardner still managed to rack up 1,005 passing yards and 8 touchdowns to just 4 interceptions.
Why South Carolina Covers the Spread
The Gamecocks are riding high coming into the Outback Bowl, having won their last four games of the regular season. They are also a defensive-minded team and rank near the top of the nation in just about every major defensive category. They finished the regular season ranked 12th in total yards allowed (312.2), 13th in points allowed per game (13) and in the top 20 in both passing and rushing yards allowed.
Offensively this team is very similar to Michigan. The Gamecocks don’t rack up a lot of yardage, but they are able to score based on the strength of their defense getting them good field position. For South Carolina, they ranked just 89th in total yards per game this year (372.4), but 44th in total points scored per game (31.4).
There isn’t a lot to exploit on this Michigan defense, so the Cocks need to do exactly what they’ve done so far this season to get to 10-2. They play great defense, take advantage of their opponents mistakes and use a short field to get into the end zone.
I’ve picked South Carolina to win this game outright. Visit this page to see who I’ve selected in the other bowls. Also, be sure to head over to the following sites to see who Jack Jones, Brandon Lee, and Ryan James have winning the Outback Bowl.