USA Today Sports

Outback bowl: What bettors need to know

South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Michigan Wolverines (+5.5, 48)

WHEN: 1:00 PM ET, Tuesday, January 1, 2013
WHERE: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida

OUTBACK BOWL STORYLINES

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, ESPN.

LINE: South Carolina opened at -4.5 and was bet up as high as -6 before settling at -5.5. The total has moved from 48 to 47.5.

CONSENSUS: 61 percent of Covers Consensus picks are on South Carolina while 58 percent are on the over.

WEATHER: The forecast is calling for cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 70s. Winds are expected to blow south at 6 mph.

TRENDS:

* 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.

ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA (10-2, 6-2 SEC, 8-4 ATS): The Gamecocks, who posted consecutive seasons with double-digit victories for the first time in school history, will be playing in the Outback Bowl for the fourth time and seeking consecutive bowl wins for the first time in school history. Coach Steve Spurrier has yet to name a starter at quarterback position after Dylan Thompson threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns in place of the injured Connor Shaw during the Gamecocks’ 27-17 regular-season finale win at Clemson. The Gamecocks are 17-2 against non-conference opponents over the last four years, with their last such loss coming to Florida State in the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl.

ABOUT MICHIGAN (8-4, 6-2 Big Ten, 5-7 ATS): While neutralizing Clowney will play a key role in determining their success, the Wolverines’ may be up to the task of limiting his effectiveness after their offensive line allowed a Big Ten-low 15 sacks. The Wolverines’ second-ranked pass defense could be tested in this game after starting cornerback J.T. Floyd was one of three players suspended for this game because of a violation of team rules; punter Will Hagerup and backup linebacker Brandin Hawthorne were the others. The loss of Floyd could loom large against receivers Ace Sanders and Bruce Ellington, who have each posted 100 yards receiving in a game since Lattimore went down.

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