The 2017 University of Michigan football team has accepted an invitation to play in the 2018 Outback Bowl against South Carolina from the Southeastern Conference. The Wolverines (8-4, 5-4 Big Ten) will be making their Big Ten-leading sixth appearance in the Outback Bowl/Hall of Fame Bowl.
The Outback Bowl will kick-off at noon EST on New Year’s Day from Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN2.
“Michigan proudly accepts the invitation to have our student-athletes, coaches and fans experience the Outback Bowl this holiday season,” said Warde Manuel, the Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics at Michigan. “On our previous five trips to Tampa, the Outback Bowl staff has provided a first-class, memorable experience for everyone associated with our program.”
“We are honored to represent our University and the Big Ten Conference in the tradition-laden Outback Bowl in Tampa,” said Jim Harbaugh, U-M’s J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Head Football Coach. “Our players and staff are excited to face an excellent SEC opponent in South Carolina and look forward to the competition on New Year’s Day.”
The Wolverines have compiled a 3-2 mark all-time in the Outback Bowl/Hall of Fame Bowl, with appearances in the 1988, 1994, 1997, 2003 and 2013 games. U-M claimed victories against Alabama (1988), North Carolina State (1994) and Florida (2003) and suffered setbacks to Alabama (1997) and South Carolina (2013).
This will be the fourth meeting between Michigan and South Carolina, and features a re-match of the 2013 Outback Bowl game won by South Carolina, 33-28, in the waning seconds. The Gamecocks hold a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series. Beside the bowl game match-up, the programs split regular season game on each other’s field, with South Carolina winning 17-14 at Michigan Stadium in 1980 and Michigan claiming a 34-3 win in Columbia during the 1985 season.
South Carolina (8-4, 5-3 SEC), led by head coach Will Muschamp, finished second in the SEC East standings behind Georgia. QB Jake Bentley directed the Gamecocks’ offense, completing 226-of-362 passes for 2,555 yards and 16 touchdowns. His favorite receivers were Bryan Edwards (59 catches for 705 yards and 4 TDs) and Hayden Hurst (41 catches for 518 yards and 2 TDs) and the ground game was paced by A.J. Turner (92 carries for 517 yards, 3 TDs) and Ty’Son Williams (92 carries for 460 yards, 1 TD). On defense, linebacker Skai Moore leads South Carolina with 88 tackles and three interceptions. Defensive lineman D.J. Wonnum has accumulated 52 tackles and a team-leading 13 tackles for loss and six sacks.
Michigan will participate in a bowl game for the 46th time in school history. U-M lists 11th in NCAA history in appearances and 17th in bowl game victories. Michigan will be making its 38th January bowl appearance and will play in a January bowl game for the 16th time in the past 19 bowl trips.
This is the third straight season that the Wolverines will finish their year in the state of Florida. The Michigan team has 10 student-athletes from the Sunshine State, including five starters, and all of the Floridians earning playing time this fall.
Following is additional background on Michigan’s bowl history:
• Michigan has played in 11 different bowl games during his history, winning 21 times, which is the 17th highest total among FBS school.
• U-M has compiled an 8-5 record against the SEC in bowl games.
• This will be the 35th time that Michigan faces an SEC school (25-8-1 mark), with the program starting and finishing the 2017 season against the conference; opened the year with a 33-17 victory over Florida in the AdvoCare Classic in Dallas, Texas.
• This is the 17th time that the Wolverines have played a bowl game in the state of Florida (9-7 record).