Michigan Football: Matchups That Will Be Key to Defeating South Carolina

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 17, 2012

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 10: Taylor Lewan #77 of the Michigan Wolverines reacts after beating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 35-31 at Michigan Stadium on September 10, 2010 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Many times in football, an entire game comes down to a few individual matchups.

Although there are 22 players on the field at all times, one person not doing his job can ruin an entire play. 

That will be the case in the Outback Bowl matchup between Michigan and South Carolina. There are plenty of talented players on both sides of the football, but these battles are certain to determine the outcome of the game.


CB J.T. Floyd vs. WR Bruce Ellington

Although South Carolina does not have one elite receiver, Bruce Ellington has been the go-to player for most of the season.

The sophomore has especially come on strong late in the year. In his last three games against BCS opponents, Ellington had 18 catches for 277 receiving yards and four touchdowns. 

One advantage Michigan has in the passing game is size. The top three receivers for the Gamecocks are all 5'9" or shorter. 

J.T. Floyd is listed as 6'0" and will be able to win any jump ball against his receiver.

It will still be important to stay with the quick players, but Floyd has the experience to win this battle and help his team.


QB Denard Robinson vs. LB Shaq Wilson

Even if he does not throw a single pass in the Outback Bowl, you can be certain that Denard Robinson will have an impact one way or another.

For this reason, the entire defense will have to be on its toes all game long to prevent a big run from the senior.

Shaq Wilson is a senior and South Carolina's leading tackler on the year. It will be primarily his job to make sure the runner does not get past him on the field.

He has solid speed, but few in the nation have the ability to stay with Robinson. If he is unable to catch the runner, Michigan could be in for a big day offensively.


OT Taylor Lewan vs. DE Jadeveon Clowney

This is not only the best matchup in the game, but this might be the most exciting individual battle of the entire bowl season.

Both players are among the best in the nation at their respective position and were named to the AP All-America team.

As a senior, Taylor Lewan has the experience necessary to handle the top pass-rushers in the nation. However, he has not faced anyone with the strength and speed of Jadeveon Clowney.

Clowney was second in the nation with 13 sacks, and he totaled 21.5 tackles for a loss this year. He can single-handedly ruin any offensive game plan. 

Lewan will be key in protecting the quarterback and making sure the rushing attack runs smoothly. Otherwise, the elite defensive end will prevent the Wolverines from sustaining any sort of success on the offensive side of the ball.