Michigan Football: 5 Biggest Advantages Wolverines Have over South Carolina
This Michigan versus South Carolina game isn't as big a mismatch as some of the "experts" out there are making it out to be.
I wouldn't call this game a toss-up, but it's not far off.
Michigan has plenty of things going for it in this game, some that most of the country may not realize.
Here's a look at five things Michigan may have going in its favor against the Gamecocks.
A Creative Offense
One would think that Denard Robinson would be much healthier for this game, allowing him to be used in a similar role to the game we saw against Iowa.
Of course, we thought the exact same thing in the Ohio State game, and that didn't happen. However, it seems more and more logical that Robinson was simply too injured in the second half of that game to play any kind of role.
Imagine the creativity Michigan can have on offense with a healthy Robinson.
Yes, Devin Gardner needs a bounce-back game as well, but I'd like Michigan's chances if both players are used in a way that takes full advantage of their talents.
Michigan's Pass Defense
We all know what kind of numbers Michigan's pass defense has put up, currently ranking second-best nationally.
South Carolina's passing attack, on the other hand, ranks a very mediocre 66th nationally.
If Dylan Thompson starts, this has the feel of a huge mismatch. He is only completing 50 percent of his passes, and would have a hard time going up against this Michigan secondary.
If South Carolina falls behind in this game, it's hard to see them coming back with Thompson (or Shaw for that matter) at the helm.
Whether Thompson or Shaw starts at quarterback is something to keep an eye on over the next few weeks.
Honestly, if Shaw isn't able to go, that would be a huge advantage for Michigan.
The Absence of Marcus Lattimore
Now we all know Michigan's rush defense has had its ups and downs this season, sometimes looking very good and then very bad at others.
However, South Carolina's rushing attack does not have good numbers on the season either.
The Gamecocks' rushing attack runs for just over 140 yards a game, ranking 86th nationally. Yes, of course losing Marcus Lattimore was a killer, but he was actually only averaging 4.6 yards per carry when healthy.
Kenny Miles and Mike Davis have filled in in his absence, but haven't been great. In fact, Miles has 99 carries on the year but is averaging a dismal 3.6 yards per carry.
If Lattimore were playing, this would be a huge mismatch. However, you have to like Michigan's chances because of his absence.
As a team, South Carolina is only averaging 38 yards per punt, which ranks last in the SEC.
Michigan, on the other hand, is averaging 42 yards per punt, good for second in the Big Ten.
We all know what kind of impact field position can have. Because Michigan's offense was so turnover prone this season, its defense was constantly put in terrible position.
However, the majority of the time it stepped up and responded beautifully.
In this game of inches, every yard matters.
When it comes to punting, Michigan has the advantage.
Competition Faced This Season
These two teams have a total of six losses between them, but look at who the six are: Alabama, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Ohio State, Florida and LSU.
You could make the case that all six of those teams are six of the top 13 or so teams in college football.
Some people may think South Carolina played the tougher schedule just because it played in the SEC, but that's not the case at all.
South Carolina did not face Alabama or Texas A&M this season, two of the best teams in the conference.
Out of conference, the Gamecocks faced East Carolina, UAB, Wofford and Clemson. Compare that to Michigan's, who faced Alabama, Notre Dame, Air Force and Massachusetts.
Other than a very tough stretch in which South Carolina faced Georgia, Florida and LSU, its schedule looked quite easy.
As mentioned earlier, this game isn't quite a toss-up, but it's not far from it.