Thumbs up, thumbs down: USC vs. Michigan

nwhite@thestate.comJanuary 2, 2013 

THUMBS UP

Ace Sanders

The All-SEC punt returner worked his magic again with a 63-yard return for a first-quarter touchdown. The junior receiver clinched the game MVP award by adding a 4-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter and a 31-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter to finish with a game-high nine grabs.

Damiere Byrd

The sophomore receiver changed his jersey number from 3 to 10, and it paid off with a 56-yard touchdown catch to start the scoring. The player who gave up No. 10 — Nick Jones — added a 70-yard reception wearing his new No. 5.

D.J. Swearinger

The emotional senior safety played with his usual fire as he piled up nine tackles, which tied him for the team high with another accomplished senior in linebacker Shaq Wilson.

Jadeveon Clowney

The sophomore defensive end showed why he’s a consensus All-American with his huge hit and forced fumble in the fourth quarter that nullified a controversial first down for the Wolverines after a fake punt. The offense scored on the next play to take the lead.

Connor Shaw/Dylan Thompson

The pair of quarterbacks combined to complete 25-of-36 passes for 341 yards passing with two touchdowns each.

Sacks record

Victor Hampton, Kelcy Quarles and Aldrick Fordham each had a sack Tuesday, giving USC a school-record 43 on the season.

Jimmy Legree

The junior cornerback wound up tied for the team lead in interceptions with three after his first-quarter pick.

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THUMBS DOWN

The ground game

The Gamecocks picked up eight yards on nine attempts in the first half, with a fumble by tailback Kenny Miles resulting in a Michigan field goal. They finished with one yard on the ground by running backs.

The crowd

Proving again that bowl games are more television show than must-see events in person — something Steve Spurrier referenced earlier in the week — USC and Michigan fans didn’t come close to filling the 65,856 seats at Raymond James Stadium.

The fake-punt first down

A head-scratching ruling by officials of a first down for Michigan on a fake punt — even after being reviewed on a replay that showed the Wolverines came up short — had Spurrier quoting an official afterward saying he didn’t know what it was called that way.

Adam Yates

The senior placekicker missed a pair of second-half field goals from 33 and 42 yards, with the second one being blocked.

Silly penalty

Victor Hampton was called for an unsportsmanlike penalty away from the ball (for taunting). Michigan would later score a touchdown on the same drive.

- Dwayne McLemore contributed

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