The 2013 Outback Bowl may go down as the postseason’s best.
In it, South Carolina topped Michigan by the score of 33-28. Too many Gamecocks deserve praise for their phenomenal New Year’s Day performances. But out of all the outstanding outings, three stand out.
Here they are.
3. Jadeveon Clowney
Clowney entered the contest with 13 sacks on the season. He didn’t add to his total against the Wolverines, but outside of the go-ahead touchdown, he made the hugest play of the game.
One play after South Carolina got screwed over by the referees when they rewarded Michigan with a first down despite the fact that anyone who wasn’t blind could see it was short, Clowney did this.
The very next play, Connor Shaw hit Ace Sanders for a 31-yard touchdown pass. Talk about a momentum shift.
2. Dylan Thompson
Shaw was forced to exit the game with an injury, but the Gamecocks didn’t skip a beat with the second-stringer.
Thompson completed seven of nine pass attempts for 117 yards and two touchdowns. His second touchdown was the only play of the game that eclipsed Clowney’s in greatness. Down 28-27 with 17 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter on Michigan’s 32-yard-line, Thompson kept the bowl’s outcome out of the kicker’s hands.
1. Ace Sanders
No one left his imprint on the game more than Sanders.
Outside of Shaw’s tremendous game on the ground (who definitely deserves an honorable mention), Sanders was South Carolina’s primary source of offense.
He reeled in nine receptions for 92 yards and two touchdowns. Considering that he had never caught more than six balls or multiple touchdowns in a single game and had only recorded over 79 receiving yards one other time this season, his performance was quite a pleasant surprise.
And Sanders didn’t just save his explosiveness for offense either.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.