Gamecocks have huge 2nd half to beat Michigan in Outback Bowl

TAMPA, FL (AP) - Jake Bentley threw for 239 yards and two touchdowns Monday to help South Carolina overcome a 16-point second-half deficit to beat Michigan 26-19 in the Outback Bowl.

The sophomore tossed scoring passes of 21 yards to Bryan Edwards and 53 yards to Shi Smith, the latter giving the Gamecocks (9-4) a 23-19 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Michigan (8-5) finished with its first three-game losing streak under coach Jim Harbaugh. The Wolverines turned the ball over five times, including an end zone interception that denied them an opportunity to regain the lead with just under eight minutes to go.

The loss also cost the Big Ten a clean sweep of bowl games involving conference members. The league entered 7-0, looking to go unbeaten in postseason play for the first time since 1998 when it went 5-0.

Bentley was 19 of 32 passing with one interception. Rico Dowdle, playing for first time since breaking his leg against Tennessee on Oct. 14, began South Carolina's comeback from a 19-3 deficit with a 17-yard TD run.

Brandon Peters had a tough day for Michigan, completing 20 of 44 passes for 186 yards and two interceptions. His second pick, with 1:05 remaining, sealed South Carolina's second Outback Bowl victory over the Wolverines in five years.

Quinn Nordin accounted for most of Michigan's scoring, kicking field goals of 35, 26, 45 and 48 yards. Fullback Ben Mason scored on a 1-yard run in helping Michigan build its 16-point lead.

Peters, who returned to the lineup after missing the regular-season finale against Ohio State with a concussion, was hoping to make it more difficult for Harbaugh to replace him next season - even if Shea Patterson is one of coach's options.

Patterson plans to transfer to Michigan from Mississippi, a program hit with sanctions, and to petition the NCAA to allow him to be immediately eligible.

NOTABLE

South Carolina scored 23 unanswered points in the second half, overcoming a 16-point deficit to defeat Michigan 26-19 in the 2018 Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla.

Quarterback Jake Bentley was named the Outback Bowl MVP after finishing 19-of-32 for 239 yards with a pair of TDs.

The Gamecocks finish the season with nine wins, which is tied for the fifth highest in school history.

South Carolina now leads the overall series with Michigan, 3-1, with the Gamecocks winning the last two meetings, both in the Outback Bowl.

South Carolina's captains for the game were #8 D.J. Wonnum, #10 Skai Moore, #19 Jake Bentley and #81Hayden Hurst.

Attendance at Raymond James Stadium was 45,687

South Carolina moves its bowl record to 9-13 and its Outback Bowl record to 4-1.

South Carolina is now 7-9 against teams in the Big Ten Conference.

The Gamecocks have 10 players that started all 13 games this season: QB Jake Bentley, WR Bryan Edwards, TE Hayden Hurst, C Alan Knott, DT Taylor Stallworth, DE D.J. Wonnum, LB T.J. Brunson, LBSkai Moore, S Chris Lammons and CB JaMarcus King.

Twelve seniors (Cory Helms, Hayden Hurst, Ulric Jones, JaMarcus King, Alan Knott, Chris Lammons,Skai Moore, D.J. Park, Dante Sawyer, Demetrius Smalls, D.J. Smith, Taylor Stallworth) played their final game in a Gamecock uniform.

CB Keisean Nixon made his first career start in the Michigan game.

GAME CHANGER

South Carolina recovered one of its five forced turnovers with 57 seconds left in third quarter and struck on the next play with a 21-yard pass from Jake Bentley to Bryan Edwards, cutting Michigan's lead to 19-16. After the Gamecock defense forced Michigan to punt, Bentley found Shi Smith for a 53-yard touchdown pass to give South Carolina the lead for good.

KEY STAT

23 — South Carolina scored 23 straight points in the second half to give the Gamecocks the 26-19 win. Carolina was down 19-3 with 5:42 left in the third quarter but went on a six-play 77-yard drive that ended with a 17-yard run from Rico Dowdle with 2:25 left in the quarter. South Carolina took the lead for good on a 53-yard touchdown pass from Jake Bentley to Shi Smith with 11:33 left in the game.

UP NEXT

South Carolina ends the season 9-4 with an Outback Bowl win, a 5-3 win in conference play and wins over Michigan, N.C. State, Tennessee and Florida. The Gamecocks open the 2018 season September 1 against Coastal Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium.