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Quarterback Denard Robinson, who is from Deerfield Beach, Fla., will return home for No. 19 Michigan, but could be used all over the field in his final college game with the emergence of Devin Gardner. Robinson hasn’t attempted a pass since injuring his right elbow on Oct. 27 but ran for 220 yards while helping to replace injured running back Fitzgerald Toussaint. In the four games since Robinson’s injury, Gardner has thrown for 1,005 yards and accounted for 15 touchdowns.
South Carolina: Shaw has thrown for 1,732 yards and 15 TDs, while backup Thompson has thrown for 910 yards and eight TDs, including 310 yards and three TDs while filling in for the injured Shaw during the Gamecocks' regular season-ending victory over Clemson.
Michigan: QR Denard Robinson was replaced at QB by WR Devin Gardner late in the season after injuring his right elbow but has continued to contribute by running the ball and catching passes. Gardner is likely to start the Outback Bowl, however Robinson has thrown some passes in practice and coach Brady Hoke hasn't ruled out the possibility that he could play some at quarterback against South Carolina.
At the conclusion of the regular season, Michigan’s offense ranked fifth in the Big Ten in rushing (187.3), sixth in passing (198.1) and scoring (30.0), and eighth in total yards (385.4). The lone certainty in the New Year’s Day bowl is that it will be the last game senior standout Denard Robinson wears the famed Maize and Blue and winged helmet. The one thing that is certainly uncertain is what position Robinson will play. The All-Big Ten honorable mention selection started at his primary QB position in the regular-season finale against Ohio State, but spent the second half of the season at tailback and receiver while Devin Gardner took the reins of the U-M offense. Expect both Robinson and Gardner to see action under center against the Gamecocks. Robinson ranks first in Michigan history in career total offensive yardage (10,669), and with one more passing TD, will become the first player in Big Ten history to post 50 passing and 40 rushing TDs. With 4,395 career rushing yards, Robinson is just 85 yards shy of reaching West Virginia’s Pat White for first place all-time in NCAA annals for a quarterback.
Robinson and Gardner will have to account for defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, the Hendricks Award winner who was named a first-team All-American and SEC Defensive Player of the Year for No. 11 South Carolina after setting single-season school records with 13 sacks and 21½ tackles for loss.
Quarterback play: Connor Shaw will get the start for the Gamecocks, but backup Dylan Thompson could get a few possessions as well. Shaw has battled injuries and has been inconsistent. They'll need one of his better games to get the win.
Contain Michigan quarterbacks: Whether it's Gardner or Robinson taking the direct snap, both can hurt South Carolina running the ball. Keeping contain will be crucial for the defense.
Turnover battle: Turnovers have plagued the Wolverines. They finished the regular season 100th nationally in turnover margin (-.67). Winning that margin by two or more would be a big boost to the Gamecocks' chances.
Continue strong pass defense: Michigan had one of the best passing defenses in the nation, allowing opponents just over 155 passing yards per game. Without Lattimore, South Carolina has been forced to pass more often.
Overcome recent bowl history: The Wolverines have lost six of their last nine bowl games, including an embarrassing 52-14 loss to Mississippi State last time they played an SEC team (2011).
Move the pocket: The Wolverines can't simply drop back and expect to protect their quarterbacks from South Carolina's fierce pass rush. They must move the pocket, get rid of the ball quickly and use draws and screens to keep the South Carolina defensive line honest.
Neither team will have the benefit of playing with the 1,000-yard running back they had back in September. The Gamecocks’ Marcus Lattimore suffered a devastating knee injury on the same day Robinson was hurt while Toussaint was lost for the season with his own significant leg injury on Nov. 17 against Iowa.
* Gamecocks are 5-1 ATS in their last six non-conference games.
* Wolverines are 1-3-1 ATS in their last five bowl games.
* Under is 4-0 in Gamecocks' last four bowl games.
* Over is 5-1 in Wolverines last six bowl games.