TAMPA, Fla. — No. 11 South Carolina is headed to the Outback Bowl to face No. 19 Michigan.
It’s the second trip in five seasons to the New Year’s Day game for the Gamecocks (10-2), who lost 31-10 to Iowa in Tampa in January 2009.
Michigan (8-4) hasn’t played in the Outback in 10 years, when the Wolverines beat Florida 38-30 to conclude the 2002 season.
Coach Brady Hoke’s team went 6-2 in the Big Ten this season, losing on the road to Nebraska and Ohio State. Michigan’s other losses came to the teams that’ll play for the national title — top-ranked Notre Dame and No. 2 Alabama.
According to STATS LLC, the Wolverines are the only team since at least 1996 to face the teams ranked first, second and third in the AP Poll heading into the bowl games.
It will be South Carolina’s fourth Outback appearance overall, second under coach Steve Spurrier. Lou Holtz took the Gamecocks to the Outback January 2001 and 2002, defeating Ohio State both times.
Michigan, which finished second in the Big Ten’s Legend Division, will be making its 42nd bowl appearance and has a 20-21 record in postseason play. The Wolverines are 23-7-1 all-time against SEC teams, 7-4 in bowl games.
South Carolina’s only losses came in consecutive weeks to LSU and Florida. The Gamecocks finished third in the SEC’s Eastern Division and are headed to a bowl for the sixth time under Spurrier.
No other coach has taken South Carolina to more than three postseason games.
“The SEC is an excellent conference and we look forward to the challenge of facing them,” said Hoke, who’s 19-6 in two seasons at Michigan. He was an assistant with the Wolverines when they last played in the Outback.
The Jan. 1 matchup will be third-ever between the Wolverines and Gamecocks, first in a bowl game. Michigan lost to South Carolina 17-14 at home in 1980, but went on the road to beat the Gamecocks 34-3 in 1985.