Who: Michigan Wolverines (8-4) vs South Carolina Gamecocks (10-2)
When: New Year's Day, 1 PM EST
Line: Gamecocks by 4.5
Ross: Michigan lost four games this year, but they could hardly have picked a more impressive quartet of teams to lose to — Alabama, Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Ohio State combined to go 46-4 this year. Of course, South Carolina also played a difficult schedule — they played four teams ranked 11th or better (Georgia, Florida, LSU, and Clemson). The difference? They managed to go 2-2 against their best competition. For most of the year, South Carolina won with defense and the running game; after RB Marcus Lattimore suffered a ghastly leg injury in the Tennessee game, that was pretty much down to just the defense, led by stud DE Jadeveon Clowney. They gave up 17.4 ppg on average, 12th nationally and gave up 20+ in just four games (Florida, LSU, Tennessee, and Arkansas). Michigan's defense, a national embarrassment under Rich Rodriguez and Greg Robinson, has been a source of strength under Brady Hoke and Greg Mattison — they gave up 18.8 ppg (16th nationally) and had the 2nd best pass defense in the country (155 ypg) in 2012. So on paper this looks like it should be a low-scoring, defensive struggle-type game. Michigan may have a few tricks up its sleeves if QB Denard Robinson is healthy and able to play QB again, allowing them to keep South Carolina off-balance with both Robinson and Devin Gardner at QB, but Clowney and the Gamecock defense just seem too beastly for Michigan's offense to handle.