Outback Bowl 2013: Top Performers in Thrilling Gamecocks Victory

Brian Leigh@@BLeighDATFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2013

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 1:  Wide receiver Bruce Ellington #23 of the South Carolina Gamecocks grabs a 32-yard, game-winning touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the Michigan Wolverines in the Outback Bowl January 1, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  South Carolina won 33 - 28. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The South Carolina Gamecocks defeated the Michigan Wolverines 33-28 in a wild, nearly-controversial Outback Bowl. 

Trailing by one point late in the fourth quarter, backup quarterback Dylan Thompson connected with wide receiver Bruce Ellington on a game-winning 32-yard touchdown pass. When the play was done, just 11 seconds remained on the clock.

That came after Michigan's Devin Gardner mounted a potential game-winning drive of his own just three minutes earlier.

Both teams played up to snuff on Tuesday, and a host of performances stick out as remarkable. Here are three that were particularly impressive:

QB Connor Shaw, South Carolina

Dylan Thompson threw the game-winning touchdown, so Dylan Thompson enjoyed the adrenaline-fueled glory that followed. Which is fine; that was a helluva a pass he threw.

But Connor Shaw might have been the reason South Carolina won this game.

Forced to withdraw early in the final drive with an injury, Shaw could only watch from the sideline on the game's deciding play. But before that he poured his heart and soul onto the field, throwing for 224 yards and two touchdowns; adding 96 yards on the ground. 

More importantly, he managed to be efficient without turning the ball over. This was only the second time all season Shaw threw for 200-plus yards with no interceptions—the other coming against Missouri all the way back in September.

He didn't get to put up the climactic highlight, but his overall play was something to be proud of.

WR Jeremy Gallon, Michigan

Michigan averaged a good-not-great 29.8 points-per-game this season. But in their five biggest games (Alabama, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Nebraska and Ohio State), they averaged a paltry 12.4 PPG. 

So it was surprising to see them move the ball with precision and—at times—ease against the vaunted Gamecocks defense. That success was a group effort, but the largest round of applause has to go to receiver Jeremy Gallon.

The diminutive junior finished with nine catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns—all career highs. Every time the Wolverines needed a big play, Gallon was Johnny-on-the-spot. Against a rugged South Carolina defense, that's much easier said than done.

He needs to work on consistency, but it's not inconceivable for him to play like this all the time next season. If he does, Michigan won't suffer the same big-game offensive struggles in 2013.

DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina

His play was so nice, I wrote about it twice. I go into further depth on Jadeveon Clowney here, but just allow me to reiterate.


He wasn't the ubiquitous pass-rushing force we've seen at times this season, but sometimes one play is enough to make a difference. And in this game, Clowney's one play might have made ALL the difference.

After the replacement normally scheduled refs botched the ball-spot on a Michigan fake punt attempt, the ball (and all the momentum) went to the Wolverines. That set up a do-or-die moment for South Carolina. Eat or be eaten. And in that moment, Clowney did this:

Suffice it to say, he was the one doing the eating.


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