For a fleeting moment Tuesday afternoon, it appeared the Big Ten was about to shake the postseason SEC monkey off its back. Northwestern had already easily handled a disappointing Mississippi State squad, while both Nebraska and Michigan held leads, albeit tenuous ones, on their SEC opposition.
In the end, though, we’re right back to where New Year’s Day began: the SEC owning the B1G.
As noted earlier, Georgia pulled away from the Cornhuskers in the second of the three B1G-SEC matchups. In the third, it was No. 11 South Carolina pulling some late-game magic out of the Ol’ Ball Coach’s visor to add another B1G notch to the SEC’s headboard.
After Michigan had taken a 28-27 lead with 3:29 left in the game, a 70-yard Gamecocks drive was capped by a 32-yard touchdown pass from Dylan Thompson (backup quarterback) to Bruce Ellington (basketball point guard) with 11 ticks left, handing USC a stunning 33-28 Outback Bowl win over the Wolverines. The Gamecocks have now won 23 games the past two seasons, with the 12 wins last season and 11 in 2012 marking the two winningest seasons in the school’s history.
Ace Sanders was the offensive star of the game for the Gamecocks, catching two touchdown passes as well as returning a punt 63 yards for another score. It was Jadeveon Clowney, though, who stole the show.
The freakish sophomore defensive end was the talk of Twitter, largely due in part to one play that personified his freakish ability. On that play, which came immediately after one of the most blatant missed calls of this or any other bowl season, Clowney simultaneously relieved Michigan’s Vincent Smith of both his helmet and the ball in one of the more jaw-dropping sequences you’ll ever witness:
That right there is exactly why Clowney will be a preseason favorite for the 2013 Heisman Trophy and the odds-on favorite to be the first player selected in the 2014 NFL draft.
As for Michigan, it’s the fourth time the past five seasons the Wolverines have finished with at least five losses. This five-loss season, though, was different from other years as the five losses came to teams with a combined record of 57-7, including losses to the only two FBS schools that finished the regular season undefeated (Notre Dame, Ohio State).
There was one bright spot on the day as Denard Robinson broke Pat White‘s FBS record for most rushing yards by a quarterback with 4,505. The former West Virginia Mountaineers finished his WVU career with 4,493 yards.
The SEC is now 3-2 this bowl season, while the Big Ten dropped to 2-4. The SEC is now 11-5 against the Big Ten in bowl games the past six years, including a 7-2 mark the past three postseasons.