WHO: Michigan (8-4) vs. South Carolina (8-4)
WHAT: The 32nd Outback Bowl
WHEN: January 1st at noon ET on ESPN2
WHERE: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida
THE SKINNY: The last time these two teams met in the Outback Bowl, Jadeveon Clowney delivered a hit that will live in highlight reel infamy. While this year’s edition may not have a player at the same level of the No. 1 pick, it could nevertheless be quite an interesting matchup between a pair of head coaches and programs who are hoping for a bit of a breakthrough in securing a ninth win.
Expect a heavy dose of the run game either way as both teams love to establish things between the tackles and milk the clock. Wolverines tailback Karan Higdon has a chance to crack the 1,000-yard mark with a solid effort in this one and he’ll likely be the focus of the offensive attack with quarterback Brandon Peters still a bit of a question mark despite a solid debut in difficult circumstances.
Michigan’s offense is not the horse they rode in on, however, as coordinator Don Brown’s defense is the real reason Jim Harbaugh’s side is a dangerous one by allowing just 18.3 points per game and ranking third in the country in total defense. They’re led up front by the terrific defensive line duo of Maurice Hurst and Rashan Gary, who are two of the best in the game and capable of wreaking havoc no matter if it’s run or pass.
All things considered, South Carolina enters their bowl as a bit of an overachiever with eight wins. Their best playmaker (WR Deebo Samuel) was lost in September and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper was fired after the team ranked 98th in the country in scoring. Still, there’s plenty of talent left on the roster for Will Muschamp and company and quarterback Jake Bentley can find guys downfield as well as beat you scrambling.
Given how intense both head coaches are, motivation and playing hard probably won’t be an issue in this one. The Wolverines enter as the much more talented team though and should have the upper hand over a Gamecocks lineup that is still a bit in flux. Both sides are aiming to have a big 2018 given what players are returning but a big bowl win under the sun might go a little longer for Harbaugh’s group in what could be a bit a low-scoring affair.
THE PICK: Michigan 27, South Carolina 16
As Washington State continues to come to grips with tragedy, there are those connected to the program who are hoping, even pleading, that something good can come out of the pain.
Tyler Hilinski‘s body was found Tuesday evening at his residence, dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot to the head. As those close to Hilinski mourn the sudden death of the 21-year-old redshirt sophomore quarterback, some, including teammate John Bledsoe, took to social media to express their grief.
Bledsoe is a freshman quarterback at Wazzu who is also the son of Cougar great Drew Bledsoe. On his Instagram account Wednesday, the elder Bledsoe, who acknowledged that he didn’t know Hilinski well, sent out a heartfelt message imploring men “to learn to TALK about how we are feeling.”
“If we sprain an ankle we go see a doctor,” Bledsoe wrote. “If we’re struggling emotionally we have to learn to treat it the same way.”
Everybody needs help at some point. Male or female, if you’ve gotten to that point, reach out for the help. As Bledsoe stated, it’s not a sign of weakness it’s the ultimate sign of strength. Talk to a family member, friend, co-worker, clergy, anyone. If you’re too embarrassed to talk to someone you know, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is just a phone call away at 1-800-273-8255.
Just talk to someone. Whether you believe it at the time or not, your life is worth it.
In a statement, Kansas State has confirmed the passing of head coach Bill Snyder‘s grandson and assistant coach Sean Snyder‘s son.
Emergency personnel were called to the home of Matthew Snyder Wednesday afternoon for what was described as a medical emergency. Other than the 22-year-old was deceased, no further details of the events surrounding his death have been released.
While neither of the long-time Wildcats coaches have, understandably, addressed the tragedy, K-State athletic director Gene Taylor did in a statement.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Snyder family during this very difficult time. We are deeply saddened to learn of this news and ask that the family’s privacy continue to be respected. Sean, Wanda, and the entire Snyder family are greatly appreciative of the outpouring of support displayed by the K-State Family as they cope with this tragedy.
This one seemingly comes from out of nowhere.
The starting quarterback for Lane Kiffin‘s resurgent FAU program for most of 2017, Jason Driskel was hoping again to trigger one of the most potent offenses in the country in 2018. Instead, Driskel announced on his personal Twitter account that he is retiring from the sport.
“After a lot of thinking, talking with friends and family, and prayer, I have made the decision to end my college football career,” Driskel, who has one year of eligibility remaining, wrote in the social media missive. “I undoubtedly will miss my teammates and the game with all of its trials and tribulations; but I will not regret the decision to move into the next chapter of my life.”
After going 1-2 the first three games of the 2017 season, Lane Kiffin benched starter Daniel Parr and inserted Driskel. After losing his first start at Buffalo, Driskel proceeded to help lead the Owls to 10 straight wins to close out the regular season with a school-record 11 wins. FAU won the Conference USA championship and also claimed the program’s first bowl win since 2008 for good measure.
Driskel passed for 2,247 yards, five touchdowns and just four interceptions in what turned out to be his last season at the school. He was also third on the Owls with 427 yards rushing, while his eight rushing touchdowns were second on the team.
With Driskel out, a pair of transfers, Florida State’s De'Andre Johnson and Oklahoma’s Chris Robinson, will likely battle for the starting job beginning in the spring. Even if he hadn’t retired, Driskel would’ve had to beat out that duo for the starting job, his head coach confirmed after the Boca Raton Bowl rout of Akron.
Tragedy has struck at the heart of the Kansas State football program.
According to the Manhattan Mercury, 22-year-old Matthew Snyder died Wednesday in Manhattan. Snyder is the grandson of legendary K-State head coach Bill Snyder and the son of longtime Wildcats assistant Sean Snyder.
Scant details surrounding the younger Snyder’s death have been released. From the Mercury‘s report:
Emergency personnel responded to a medical call Wednesday afternoon in the 3300 block of Claflin Avenue in Manhattan. Riley County police confirmed that there had been a death but declined to give any further information.
The house at 3309 Claflin Ave. belongs to KTMW LLC, which is owned by Sean and Wanda Snyder, according to county records.
The football program is expected to release a statement or statements on Matthew Snyder’s passing later on Thursday.
Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to those affected by the young man’s death.