South Carolina vs. Michigan: Defensive Line Will Lead Gamecocks to Win

Chris StephensCorrespondent IIJanuary 1, 2013

Jadeveon Clowney totaled 4.5 sacks against Clemson.
Jadeveon Clowney totaled 4.5 sacks against Clemson.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Like many games before, the South Carolina defensive line will dominate and lead the Gamecocks to a win over Michigan in the Outback Bowl.

The Wolverines rank 40th in the nation in rushing yards per game (187.3), but have only averaged 138 yards in the last five games. Those games were against Ohio State, Iowa, Northwestern, Minnesota and Nebraska.

If you take out the 199 yards against a 4-8 Iowa team, then the average is 122.8 yards per game.

And, nothing against those five teams, but none has the defensive-line capabilities that South Carolina does.

South Carolina is allowing an average of 119 yards per game. Simply put, it doesn't allow much.

So, what can Michigan expect against South Carolina and its defensive line?


Jadeveon Clowney

Clowney is the leader of the defense, and frankly, the best defensive lineman in the country. If he was eligible for the NFL draft, he likely would be a top-five pick.

For the year, Clowney has 13 sacks for a loss of 73 yards. His total ranks him second in the nation and gives him 21 for his career. He has also forced two fumbles, totaled 50 tackles with 21.5 being for loss.

The 256-pound defensive end simply manhandles offensive linemen when it's one-on-one situations. Most teams know they have to double-team him if they're going to keep him quiet.


The Other Starters

With Clowney getting double-teamed a lot during games, the other three starters on the defensive line have stepped up their pressure.

Devin Taylor has 40 tackles, with eight for loss, and three sacks from the other defensive end position.

On the inside are Byron Jerideau and Kelcy Quarles, who have combined for 75 tackles, 11.5 for loss, and five sacks.

Each of the linemen are pushing the offense back, creating havoc for the running game and forcing quarterbacks to throw before they want to.

As a team, the Gamecocks have 40 total sacks, which ranks eighth in the country.



There's an old saying that you're only as good as your last game. For the South Carolina defensive line, that bodes well.

Clowney led the team with seven tackles and 4.5 sacks. Taylor had four tackles, including 0.5 sacks.

In fact, the Gamecocks totaled six sacks against a Clemson team that has speed at the quarterback position. It's the same Clemson team that held LSU in check during the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

South Carolina is playing its best football, having won its last four games.

Michigan has lost two of its last five and is still trying to get things to click with a new quarterback.

There are multiple other things the Gamecocks will do that will allow them to win, but the defensive line will be the story at the end of the day.