Outback Bowl: Last-minute TD lifts South Carolina over Michigan
Tampa, Fla. • Steve Spurrier's plan to use two quarterbacks in the Outback Bowl worked so well that Dylan Thompson and Connor Shaw both earned game balls.
That's a first for the Head Ball Coach, who has a well-known penchant for benching struggling QBs. Except in this case, the Gamecocks' winningest coach used his talented pair of passers by design.
Shaw began Tuesday's 33-28 victory over Michigan with a 56-yard touchdown pass to Damiere Byrd. Thompson closed it out by throwing a 32-yard TD strike to Bruce Ellington in the final minute to help South Carolina match the school record for victories in a season.
"I don't know if I've ever given two quarterbacks a game ball, but today I said: 'Hey, we've got to give them to both you guys,'" Spurrier said.
"Both those young men are just so super team-oriented. There's no jealousy, nothing. ... Those guys are just really, really good teammates. Wonderful team players," the coach added. "We tried to tell Connor: 'It's your game.' And it was his game, but Dylan was going to play. He understood that. It worked beautifully as it turned out."
Thompson replaced Shaw during the winning drive, covering the final 43 yards after Shaw began the march from his own 30 and kept it alive with a 6-yard completion to Ace Sanders on a fourth-and-3 play. Devin Gardner's third TD pass of the game had given Michigan a 28-27 lead.
"I wasn't nervous. I knew I had great guys around me, and I trusted them and just was confident," Thompson said.
Shaw threw for 227 yards and two touchdowns after missing the Gamecocks' regular-season finale with a left foot sprain. Thompson led the Gamecocks (11-2) to a victory at archrival Clemson and threw for 117 yards and two TDs in the bowl.
Gardner threw for 214 yards in his fifth start for Michigan (8-5) since Denard Robinson injured his right elbow late in the season. Robinson took some snaps at quarterback and even attempted his first passes in a game since Oct. 27, but he lined up mostly at running back and rushed for 100 yards on 23 carries.
S. Carolina 33, Michigan 28
South Carolina 14 7 0 12 33
Michigan 3 10 9 6 28
SC • Byrd 56 pass from C.Shaw (Yates kick), 13:26.
Mich • FG Gibbons 39, 7:28.
SC • Sanders 63 punt return (Yates kick), 3:29.
Mich • Dileo 5 pass from Gardner (Gibbons kick), 12:41.
SC • Sanders 4 pass from Thompson (Yates kick), 10:54.
Mich • FG Gibbons 40, 2:47.
Mich • FG Wile 52, 6:54.
Mich • Gallon 10 pass from Gardner (pass failed), :02.
SC • Sanders 31 pass from C.Shaw (pass failed), 8:06.
Mich • Gallon 17 pass from Gardner (run failed), 3:29.
SC • Ellington 32 pass from Thompson (pass failed), :11.
Attendance • 54,527.
First downs 17 24
Rushes-yards 17-85 45-141
Passing 341 214
Comp-Att-Int 25-36-0 18-37-1
Return Yards 63 12
Punts-Avg. 3-41.0 3-48.0
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 3-1
Penalties-yards 5-44 4-55
Time of Possession 22:01 37:59
Rushing • South Carolina, C.Shaw 10-96, Miles 5-1, Thompson 2-(minus 12). Michigan, D.Robinson 23-100, Gardner 12-24,
Dileo 1-7, Smith 6-6, Simmons 1-4, Hayes 2-0.
Passing • South Carolina, C.Shaw 18-26-0-224, Thompson 7-10-0-117. Michigan, Gardner 18-36-1-214, D.Robinson 0-1-0-0.
Receiving • South Carolina, Sanders 9-92, Miles 4-22, Jones 3-78, Byrd 2-63, Ellington 2-36, Carson 2-1, Cunningham 1-37, Anderson 1-7, M.Davis 1-5. Michigan, Gallon 9-145, Roundtree 3-27, Dileo 3-22, Smith 1-9, D.Robinson 1-7, Funchess 1-4.