In the first month of the season, Michigan saw two of the nation’s best defenses. Now in the finale, the Wolverines will face the man who might be the most dominant individual defender in the country.
South Carolina sophomore defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, all 6-foot-6, 256 pounds of him, was second in the country averaging 1.18 sacks a game and second in the country in tackles for loss per game (1.95).
Clowney also produced five quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and two pass breakups to go along with his 50 tackles.
While Clowney will be a major conversation point for Michigan’s offense -- and a great matchup for Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan -- this matchup could be advantageous for Michigan’s defense as well.
South Carolina has the nation’s No. 87 offense, averaging 372.42 yards a game. Where the Gamecocks could be dangerous to Michigan offensively is throwing the ball, where they are 21st nationally in pass efficiency, but have thrown for only 229.50 yards a game.
Defensively, Michigan and South Carolina are fairly comparable. The Wolverines are 11th in total defense while the Gamecocks are 12th.
The Wolverines will see South Carolina for the third time in school history, but the first in almost two decades. The last time the teams played came in Columbia, S.C., in 1985, when the Wolverines won, 34-3, as part of a 10-1-1 season under Bo Schembechler.
The other meeting, in 1980, was a 17-14 loss -- the Wolverines last loss of the season on their way to an undefeated Big Ten year and a 10-2 record, including a 23-6 win over Washington in the Rose Bowl.
Michigan has a 3-1 record in the Outback, once called the Hall of Fame Bowl, including a 2003 win over Florida, 38-30, in its last appearance. Against the SEC in a bowl game, Michigan also has had success. The Wolverines are 7-4 against the most powerful conference in college football in bowl games, but they have never faced the Gamecocks.
Overall, Michigan is 19-7-1 against teams historically from the SEC, having played every school in the league save for LSU, whose head coach is former Michigan player Les Miles.