Last Updated: 2017-12-29
The first day of the New Year is here and that brings promise and hope of change for people looking to start the New Year off on the right foot. For college football fans it means the start of some of the best bowl games of the year. It all starts off with the Outback Bowl that kicks off at 12:00 eastern standard time and will be televised for all to see on ESPN 2. This game will be played in Tampa Florida so ill avoid the record setting cold temps that are rolling through the northern part of the country. This year the New Year’s Day games feature five games and all of them feature two ranked teams, except for the Outback Bowl. That doesn’t mean that this game is not worth watching as there are still two quality football teams from quality football conferences with plenty to play for.
This game will feature a team from the Big Ten and a team from the Southeastern Conference. The two teams that will take to the field are the Michigan Wolverines and the South Carolina Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks played well enough to get eight wins on the season. They also managed to get five wins in the very competitive SEC East division. Although five wins is impressive it is two games behind the Georgia Bulldogs who are headed to the college football playoffs. The Gamecocks had some big ugly losses this season as they were blown out against the Bulldogs and the Clemson Tigers. They did have decent wins against North Carolina State, Florida and at Missouri.
They also had a winning record against the spread (ATS) this season as they were 6-4 ATS and had a better record cashing in bets on the road then they did at home.
The Michigan Wolverines are always fun to watch especially since they are led by the energetic and unpredictable Jim Harbaugh. This year he had the Wolverines on pace to be considered for the college football playoffs but they had a late collapse that ultimately eliminated them from the picture. Back to back losses to ranked teams in the Wisconsin Badgers and the Ohio State Buckeyes were not enough to get this team noticed by the playoff committee. Although they were good enough to get eight wins on the season, but not good enough to get more than five wins in the Big Ten East division. That allowed the Wolverines an ugly fourth place finish. The only good victory the Wolverines had all season was against a then ranked Florida team to open the season.
Because of those losses against good teams, the Wolverines were not very good against the number this year. They were just 5-6 ATS this season and that included a 2-2 ATS mark on the road and a 4-5 AATS record in the last nine games overall.
Although Michigan struggled late they have the advantage in talent and that is why the point spread in this game opened up in this game at (-8.5). That number dipped since then and has dropped at least a point at many of the online sportsbooks. It can now be found at (-7.5). This could also be due to the fact that the public is betting on South Carolina. Albeit small, 54 percent of the wagers in this game are on the Gamecocks.
The over / under in this game is at 43 and has moved between 42.5 and 43.5 during the betting for this bowl game. This is the lowest total for any bowl game on New Year’s Day. The public also believes that it will be a low scoring game since 62 percent of the wagers coming in on this game are on this total to go under when this game is complete.
These teams met on the field just four years ago when South Carolina beat Michigan 33-28.
The Wolverines are 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 games in January, 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing less than 170 yards passing in their previous game and 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games on grass. But they are also 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up loss, 2-6-1 ATS when they play against a team with a winning record and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games.
The Gamecocks are 3-0-2 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing more than 280 yards passing in their previous game, 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games after accumulating less than 275 total yards in their previous game and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 bowl games. But they are also 2-6 ATS in their last 8 non-conference games and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a double-digit loss at home.
If South Carolina wants to win they have to try and figure out a way to put points on the board. The offense has been a challenge every year for this team and it will only get tougher against a Wolverines team that ranks in the top ten in many of the key defensive categories. The main cog in this defense is DT Maurice Hurst who can get after the quarterback and has five sacks and will be on an NFL roster next year.
The edge in coaching is also to Michigan. This team also knows how to take down the SEC as they have a 25-8-1 record winning by an average of 25 points per game.
The Gamecocks will rely on Jake Bentley to pass his way through this defense. He has over 2500 yards on the season and 16 scores this season. He will need AJ Turner to be healthy after getting banged up in the season finale against Clemson. This could be a tough task considering the struggles that this team has had to move the ball against inferior teams.
Michigan is a team that likes to win and likes to win big. Harbaugh loves to recruit and he has to end the season on a high note. They have a serious edge on defense and that will be enough for a blowout win for Michigan.
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