Michigan Football: Keys to Victory over South Carolina in Outback Bowl

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 7, 2012

ANN ARBOR, MI - OCTOBER 20:  Head coach Brady Hoke of the Michigan Wolverines watches the action during the game against the Michigan State Spartans at Michigan Stadium on October 20, 2012 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Wolverines defeated the Spartans 12-10. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

After an 8-4 season, Michigan has an uphill battle in the Outback Bowl against South Carolina. Still, this team is certainly capable of pulling off an upset.

The Wolverines are one of the most battle-tested teams in the nation after games against each of the top three teams in the AP Poll. The games against Ohio State and Notre Dame were both decided by only one score.

South Carolina is extremely talented, but Michigan has already gone toe-to-toe with teams of this caliber. Now all the squad needs to do is figure out a way to come out on top.

Here are the keys to a Michigan victory in the Outback Bowl.


Force Turnovers

South Carolina only has two losses on the season, but turnovers were a big part of each of them.

Although the defense held Florida to only 183 total yards of offense, the Gators were able to score 44 points thanks to a few key turnovers. The Gamecocks had a total of four giveaways in the game and it ruined any chance at coming away with a victory.

They followed the same theme in the loss to LSU, as two Connor Shaw interceptions ended up being incredibly damaging.

Michigan's secondary needs to be aggressive in forcing turnovers after only getting seven interceptions all year. 

Any of these plays would not only set the offense up in better position, but it would be a huge momentum swing in what should be a very emotional game. 


Stop the Run

It is fortunate that Michigan will not have to face the injured Marcus Lattimore. However, the Gamecocks have a few talented running backs to take his place, including Kenny Miles and Mike Davis. 

Combined, they could cause some serious problems for Michigan.

The Wolverines are the No. 2 team in the nation against the pass, but that ranking falls to No. 57 against the run. 

Carlos Hyde of Ohio State, Ameer Abdullah of Nebraska and Alabama's T.J. Yeldon were all able to rush for over 100 yards against Michigan. Each of those games ended up being a loss.

Michigan has to make sure it controls the line of scrimmage to slow down the run game. 


Get Denard Robinson the Football

An elbow injury has effectively ended Denard Robinson's time as a passer at Michigan. He might be better by the bowl game, but Devin Gardner has played well enough to stay at quarterback.

However, it will be very important for Michigan to find some way to get the senior involved in the offense.

He has showed his ability to make things happen many times throughout his career, but fans only need to think back to the most recent game against Ohio State for an example. The team took an early lead thanks to a 67-yard touchdown run where he was bounced around like a pinball.

Robinson does not need to be on the field at all times, but the staff can find different ways to keep him active. This could be as a running back, receiver or even returning kicks.

There is no questioning which Wolverine player is the most naturally talented. The team needs to make sure Robinson gets his chance to show what he can do in his final collegiate game.

Otherwise, the offense will be serious trouble all day.