ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- We’ve reached the end of Michigan’s season, as the Wolverines have one game to play and just a few more days of preparation for the Outback Bowl against South Carolina.
Then there’s recruiting, Signing Day and the No. 2 basketball team in the country to chat about. Our staff takes a look at the Outback Bowl -- and a little bit of basketball -- in the final Roundtable of 2012.
1. So, who wins the Outback Bowl and why?
Michael Rothstein: South Carolina. While I’ve very curious to see what Michigan’s offense looks like with a month to prepare and the ability to hide everything with no games to win or lose, the Wolverines’ offensive line is still the same and the running backs are still highly questionable. The Gamecocks’ defensive line is going to have a big day against Michigan and while the game ends up close, I just don’t see it ending the way Michigan would like. Also, losing J.T. Floyd to suspension will come into play as Courtney Avery will be beat deep at least once.
Chantel Jennings: I think Michigan has a slight advantage just because so little has been said about what Denard Robinson can or cannot do. With a month to game plan, I think the Wolverines' attack heading into this game will be better than it was for Ohio State and Robinson has gone a month without being hit at all. Al Borges probably has a decent amount up his sleeve, so we should see him throw quite a bit of it out here. This will be his last chance to really work with a player like Robinson, so why not go out with a bang?
Tom VanHaaren: I think Michigan wins. Brady Hoke and the coaches have done a good job in the past when they have enough time to prepare the team. The positive for Michigan's defense is that Marcus Lattimore isn't playing and South Carolina doesn't have a mobile quarterback. I think Michigan can match up with the Gamecocks and has a good shot to win.
2. Who is the one Michigan player you think might surprise the most in the Outback Bowl?
Rothstein: Will Campbell. Not sure why, especially since Campbell has had a decent -- but not breakout -- final season. But just a gut feeling he is actually going to have a big game with at least six tackles, a couple of tackles for loss and a sack. It would be a positive cap on one of the more intriguing "what-could-have-been" careers in recent Michigan history.
Jennings: Devin Gardner. Yes, I know he has had one heck of a season after stepping in for Robinson, but now he has had the same amount of time in the postseason to focus on QB as he did during the regular season. I think he'll seem even more comfortable in the offense and more accurate with his receivers.
VanHaaren: This is a tough question because there might be a few options. With injuries it's not really known who will step up, or who might get playing time yet. I'm going with Raymon Taylor. With Floyd out, Taylor is the man at corner, and Michigan will need him to step up. With a little extra practice and plenty of time to study South Carolina's offense I think we'll see some strides from Taylor.
3. The Big Ten basketball season is almost upon us. Who is the one Michigan player who needs to improve his game most during conference play for the Wolverines to win a league title?
Rothstein: Glenn Robinson III. It’s coming and you can kind of sense it, too. The freshman forward has been Michigan’s second-most consistent player behind point guard Trey Burke, but all the potential is there for him to have some explosive games. Michigan is one of the best teams in the country right now, but if it can get explosive games to go with the efficiency from Robinson III, the Wolverines might end up as the best team in the nation.
Jennings: I think if Michigan wants to be successful in the Big Ten season that a third big man needs to emerge. Whether it be Max Bielfeldt or Jon Horford, I don't think that matters as much, they just need someone that's serviceable for 8-10 minutes a game to give Jordan Morgan and Mitch McGary some breaks. It seems like Bielfeldt is getting healthier faster, but I think Horford is more athletic, so we'll see which one recovers faster.
VanHaaren: Tim Hardaway Jr. He has been really impressive so far this season, but he has had a few stretches in games when he just seems off or out of it. In the Big Ten season he needs to be consistent on the boards and with his scoring. The Wolverines can survive a Hardaway Jr. funk, but they shouldn't have to. If they want to keep their young team out of close games late then Hardaway Jr. needs to be a foundation for this group