TAMPA, Fla. – Denard Robinson’s big day running the ball for Michigan wasn’t enough to overcome big plays by South Carolina in the Outback Bowl.
The senior quarterback lined up mostly at running back in his final college game and rushed for 100 yards on 23 carries in the Wolverines’ 33-28 loss to the Gamecocks on Tuesday.
It’s a bittersweet feeling, Robinson said. That’s my family, that’s my brothers out there. I’ve been with them for four years, and it’s come to an end.
Devin Gardner threw for 214 yards in his fifth start for No. 19 Michigan (8-5) since Robinson injured his right elbow late in the season. Robinson took some snaps at quarterback Tuesday and even attempted his first passes in a game since Oct. 27.
His legacy is set, Gardner said of Robinson. I don’t think anything really has to be said on that topic. Everybody has seen what he’s done for the university.
Connor Shaw led No. 11 South Carolina (11-2) to the brink of victory and Dylan Thompson carried the Gamecocks over the hump. Thompson tossed a 32-yard touchdown pass to Bruce Ellington with 11 seconds remaining as South Carolina matched a school record for victories in a season.
Thompson replaced Shaw during the winning drive, covering the final 43 yards after Shaw begin the march from his own 30. Gardner’s third TD pass of the game had given Michigan a 28-27 lead.
Shaw passed for 227 yards and two touchdowns after missing South Carolina’s regular-season finale with a left foot sprain. Thompson threw for 117 yards and two TDs.
Ace Sanders caught TD passes of 4 yards from Thompson and 31 yards from Shaw, who completed 18 of 26 passes before limping off during the final drive. The speedy receiver had nine catches for 92 yards and also scored on a 63-yard punt return – one of four plays over 50 yards yielded by Michigan.
There’s a couple things in football that you don’t want to do, and No. 1, you can’t give up big plays, Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. We had four big plays in the throw game that you can’t allow to happen. Give them a lot of credit, but at the same time, we had some opportunities.
Gardner was 18 of 36, including TD passes of 5 yards to Drew Dileo and 10 and 17 yards to Jeremy Gallon, who gave Michigan its late lead and finished with career bests of nine receptions and 145 yards. Robinson set the NCAA record for career yards rushing by a quarterback (4,495).
South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was quiet for much of the day but shifted momentum in the fourth quarter with a big hit on Vincent Smith that caused a fumble that the SEC defensive player of the year recovered to set up Shaw’s TD pass to Sanders for a 27-22 lead.
Clowney finished with four tackles.