Jake Bentley threw two touchdown passes and South Carolina took advantage of five second-half turnovers by Michigan to erase a 16-point deficit and defeat the Wolverines 26-19 at the Outback Bowl in Tampa on Monday.
Bentley, who completed 19 of 32 passes for 239 yards, hit Shi Smith for a go-ahead, 53-yard score with 11:33 remaining. Bryan Edwards caught five passes for 88 yards and a touchdown for the Gamecocks (9-4).
Wolverines quarterback Brandon Peters completed 20 of 44 passes for 186 yards, but was picked off twice in the fourth quarter. Quinn Nordin kicked four field goals for Michigan (8-5).
“Very gritty performance by our football team,” South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said on the field after the victory. “We may not have the history, we may not have the tradition and all them trophies. But we got some grit, some toughness and some fight in this group.
“It’s a lot of fun to be a part of, and the great thing is we’re just building.”
South Carolina outscored Michigan 23-0 over final 17-plus minutes and tied the Outback Bowl record with five forced turnovers. It was the seventh time in South Carolina history the program has won nine games in single season.
“A thank you to our seniors, and the job they did for our program,” Muschamp said. “They did a phenomenal job. We were a three-win team two years ago. Nine wins spring-boards us forward and really excited about the future.”
Michigan extended its six-point halftime lead to 19-3 in the third quarter on Ben Mason’s 1-yard scoring run and Nordin’s 48-yard field goal. South Carolina mounted its comeback later in the quarter.
Rico Dowdle scored the Gamecocks’ first touchdown on a 17-yard run. Defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw soon recovered a fumble at the Michigan 21 and South Carolina scored on the next play. Bentley connected with a leaping Edwards in the end zone to make it 19-16.
Bentley’s 53-yard hookup with Smith put the Gamecocks on top. Michigan then drove inside the South Carolina 10 but JaMarcus King intercepted Peters in the end zone.
South Carolina cashed in a fumble by Wolverines punt returner Donovan People-Jones at the Michigan 14 on Parker White’s 22-yard field goal. That gave the Gamecocks a 26-19 lead. Steven Montac intercepted Peters with 1:05 left to seal the South Carolina win.
The Wolverines took advantage of two South Carolina miscues to gain a 9-3 halftime lead.
Ambry Thomas recovered a muffed punt in Gamecocks territory midway through the first quarter, leading to a 35-yard Nordin field goal.
Bentley fumbled trying to make a handoff later in the quarter and Wolverines defensive lineman Chase Winovich recovered at South Carolina’s 31. Nordin then kicked a 26-yard field goal with nine seconds left in the first.
A 38-yard pass from Bentley to Edwards set up White’s 44-yard field goal with 8:45 remaining in the half. Nordin matched that on the last play of the half with a 45-yard boot.
—Field Level Media