One of the interesting questions leading up to the Outback Bowl was which quarterback will get to play for South Carolina. The answer? Both Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson had plenty of time to use their abilities, eventually leading to a dramatic win with a touchdown in the final 10 seconds.
The hero? Probably Thompson, who got less snaps, but was the one to throw the 32 yards touchdown pass to a wide open Bruce Ellington, while three Michigan players were completely lost and confused in the coverage, letting the Sophomore make it an easy score for him. Connor Shaw saw more of the ball, also throwing two touchdown passes and being the only factor for South Carolina on the ground game all game.
Michigan were right with them all the way. Heck, they had a 28-27 lead with 17 second left on the clock. But one of the best passing defenses in the nation didn’t really managed to keep South Carolina on the ground. They allowed 341 passing yards and four touchdowns for the Shaw-Thompson combination, and when you simply look at the numbers, the one interception Junior quarterback Devin Gardner threw was the costly mistake of the game, the only turnover in it.
Another hero for South Carolina, who showed a lot more offense than many expected in the game, was Ace Sanders. The 5-8 Junior scored three touchdowns, including his third career punt return TD, taking it home for 63 yards during the third quarter. He added a touchdown off Thompson in the second quarter and another touchdown off Connor Shaw in the final quarter.
Michigan did what the Big Ten does best – play a tight one but then lose to the SEC. Denard Robinson set a new rushing record for a College quarterback, rushing for 100 yards, reaching 4,495 and surpassing Pat White. How much will it help him get into the NFL, although no one is quite sure at what position he’ll be used in the Pros. Some suggest fourth or fifth round, and that he has shown he’ll best be used as a running back.
The difference between Shaw and Thompson can be seen in the numbers. Thompson is the man with the big throws, including a 75 yard touchown pass to Nick Jones. He finishes the season with three completions for 50 yards or more on 121 passes he attempted. Connor Shaw, with 430 career throws, only has five big gains like that. But Shaw set his own record by throwing a 56 yard touchdown to Damiere Byrd to open the game, setting a new career high for him.
Eventually, it was in the cards, right for everyone to see. No matter how close Michigan got to winning, beating strong teams just wasn’t there for them this season. The Wolverines were 0-and-4 against ranked teams and were outscored by double digits on average while they defeated 8 of 9 unranked opponents by almost 20 points per contest. What began with a crushing loss to Alabama ended with a tough, dramatic loss to another SEC team to end the season a disappointing 8-5.