South Carolina Rallies from 16-Point Deficit to Beat Michigan in Outback Bowl

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJanuary 1, 2018

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 1:  Defensive back Chris Lammons #3 of the South Carolina Gamecocks*breaks up a pass intended for wide receiver Kekoa Crawford #1 of the Michigan Wolverines during the first quarter of the Outback Bowl NCAA college football game on January 1, 2018 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
Brian Blanco/Getty Images

The South Carolina Gamecocks overcame a 16-point, second-half deficit to defeat the Michigan Wolverines 26-19 in the 2018 Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, on Monday.

After trailing 19-3 in the latter stages of the third quarter, South Carolina scored 23 unanswered points to complete the comeback.

The Gamecocks forced five Michigan turnovers, and South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley led the way offensively with 239 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

Michigan quarterback Brandon Peters struggled mightily in the loss to the tune of 186 yards and two picks on 20-of-44 passing.

With the win, South Carolina capped a 9-4 campaign, while Michigan dropped to 8-5, which is its worst finish under head coach Jim Harbaugh.

There wasn't much offense to speak of during the game's opening half, as Michigan's defense locked down the Gamecocks.

South Carolina was held scoreless in the first quarter, which has become a Michigan specialty under Harbaugh, according to ESPN Stats & Info:

All of the scoring in the first half came courtesy of field goals, with Michigan's Quinn Nordin knocking through three and South Carolina's Parker White making one to account for the Wolverines' 9-3 lead.

On Nordin's 45-yard make to end the first half, he seemed to make a lewd gesture in the direction of South Carolina's bench.

Per ESPN Stats & Info, no Power Five matchup this season was more futile in the first half from a yardage perspective than Monday's Outback Bowl:

Big Ten Network's Tom Dienhart offered a blunt assessment of the first 30 minutes of play:

Both teams started to come out of their respective shells in the second half, though, as Michigan marched 72 yards on its opening drive of the half, culminating in a one-yard touchdown run by Ben Mason.

Bentley was then intercepted on the next drive by Noah Furbush, who returned it 27 yards to the South Carolina 27-yard line.

Michigan had a chance to put the game away, but a lost fumble by running back Karan Higdon set off a chain of events that shifted the momentum in South Carolina's favor.

After a field goal by Nordin increased the Michigan lead to 19-3, South Carolina scored touchdowns on each of its next three possessions.

Rico Dowdle rushed for a 17-yard touchdown, and after another Michigan lost fumble, Bentley found wide receiver Bryan Edwards for a 21-yard score, as seen in this GIF courtesy of SEC Network:

Drew Hallett of Maize n Brew broke down how the Gamecocks managed to claw their way back into the game:

Following a Michigan punt, South Carolina took its first lead of the game with 11:33 remaining in regulation.

Bentley unleashed a perfect pass to speedy wideout Shi Smith for a 53-yard touchdown that put the Gamecocks on top 23-19.

Brad Crawford of 247Sports marveled at the play:

The Wolverines were on the move on their next drive and appeared poised to take back the lead, but Peters' pass from the South Carolina 5-yard line was intercepted by JaMarcus King for a touchback.

Kyle Rowland of the Toledo Blade didn't mince words regarding Peters' decision:

Then, after recovering a muffed punt, the Gamecocks tacked on a field goal to extend the lead to seven.

Michigan had a last-ditch effort, but Peters was intercepted for a second time, this time by Steven Montac.

Much like the 2013 Outback Bowl when South Carolina defeated Michigan 33-28, the Gamecocks prevailed.

They also blemished the Big Ten's previously perfect 2017-18 bowl record while giving the SEC only its second bowl win of the season.

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