With just 18 minutes to play, the Michigan Wolverines totally collapsed and allowed South Carolina to come back to win the game, 26-19, and in the process spoil what could have been a perfect season for the Big Ten in the Outback Bowl.
After the game, coach Jim Harbaugh was asked to explain where the Michigan offense and defense went wrong, and he said the game served a lesson for them on the importance of not just sustaining the momentum but also delivering the “knockout punch.”
He acknowledged that South Carolina got better, especially toward the end of the game and they made plays at crucial moments. “We didn’t get the knockout punch when we needed it and we didn’t take advantage of the opportunities that were there,” he said.
Michigan was leading at halftime on score of 9-3. The Wolverines even extended the lead further after Quinn Nordin scored another field goal. At this point, the lead was already 19-3. South Carolina responded and cut the lead to 19-9.
That was the needed ripple that created a tsunami of bad possessions for Michigan, which turned the ball over three times in its next four possessions. Finally, Shi Smith scored a touchdown and wrested the lead that South Carolina will never relinquish.
Ben Kercheva of CBS Sports wrote that the Michigans would become the butt of jokes in the next few days or weeks for preventing the Big Ten from getting the bragging rights over the Pac 10 for a perfect Outback Bowl record.
The bigger question, however, should be on how this will impact Harbaugh. He said that while the coach has been winning enough games in the past three seasons, his record still leaves much to be desired. For one, he’s never won enough of the games that carry much weight, or in rivalry matches for that matter.