Michigan Wolverines: 2013 Outback Bowl

Video: Gruden, Tirico break down Outback

January, 1, 2013
1/01/13
6:56
PM ET

Jon Gruden and Mike Tirico break down South Carolina's 33-28 win over Michigan in the Outback Bowl.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- During his first two seasons at Michigan, Roy Roundtree’s season would end in November the same way -- a loss to Ohio State and football disappearing until the spring.

So he would head back to Ohio for the holidays with nothing to do, get a workout in, perhaps, and sit on the couch and watch other teams play in games on television.

“It was boring,” Roundtree said.

Understanding what it felt like with no bowl is part of the reason this season will be easier, when Michigan’s players will miss the holidays at home with their families.

Michigan coach Brady Hoke decided to send his team to Tampa, Fla., on Dec. 23, which means the Wolverines will be there for around 10 days before their game against South Carolina in the Outback Bowl.

“Why not,” Hoke said. “For us, you’re getting acclimated to some different weather. That’s part of it. I think we’ll have all the game plan done before we go, so it’ll be an opportunity for them to really do a great job honing that thing up.”

Michigan’s somewhat quirky academic schedule also allows his players to head home for four days before heading to the bowl site on Dec. 23, as well as some time to head back home after the New Year’s Day game.

But being away for the holidays is something none of these players have experienced. In the 2008 and 2009 seasons, Michigan did not qualify for a bowl game. In 2010, the Wolverines played in the Gator Bowl and were home for the holidays. Same last season with the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

“We all talked about it, like, ‘Oh man, we got to be a way for Christmas,’ " Roundtree said. “Some guys got kids, and they want to be there for them, but guys get to go home and be with their family before and then be with their second family on Christmas.”

Hoke plans on having something planned for Christmas for his team -- he said there will be a Santa Claus but would not say whether or not he would dress up himself -- but heading down early is something he picked up from his previous time at Michigan under Lloyd Carr.

“Not every time, but a few occasions,” Hoke said. “We do it a little differently, to some degree. But it gets them settled in where they’re at.”

In an effort to make sure players don’t get too comfortable or worn out by their surroundings for 10 days, Michigan will stay “three or four” days in one hotel, then shift to a second hotel, just to keep things fresh.

The decision left Hoke’s players with a potentially awkward conversation to be had with families, but they feel comfortable with at least knowing they’ll be in a warm place instead.

“I’m a family guy, but this is my family as well,” senior cornerback J.T. Floyd said. “I’ll be going down there and will enjoy Christmas with my brothers.

“We’ll have a good time with it.”
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.

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BIG TEN SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12