|Outback Bowl is audition time for Michigan QB Peters|
The Outback Bowl is an audition of sorts for Brandon Peters.
He is Michigan's unquestioned starting quarterback entering the Jan. 1 contest against South Carolina but somebody else could be deemed the answer during the spring.
Even the upcoming transfer by former starter Wilton Speight isn't a help. Not with Mississippi transfer Shea Patterson arriving and hot-shot freshman Dylan McCaffrey ready to stake his claim for the job after a redshirt season.
So now is the time for Peters to assert himself and at least position himself well in terms of being the 2018 starter. The redshirt freshman will be back in the lineup after missing the regular-season finale against Ohio State due to a concussion.
"I would love to be the guy," Peters said recently. "I really think I can lead this team, win games in the future and ultimately win a Big Ten title."
Peters has earned high praise for his game instincts and competitiveness. It also hasn't hurt that he still hasn't thrown his first career college interception. He has completed 37 of 64 passes for 486 yards and four touchdowns.
But coach Jim Harbaugh is committed to conducting a competition in the spring as he is fond of saying there is always an opportunity for everyone in his program.
Yet Harbaugh also knows the dangers that lurk when you're a quarterback. After all, he was once released by a team (the San Diego Chargers in 2000) who decided colossal bust Ryan Leaf was the better signal caller.
So Harbaugh is aware of how Peters should be feeling about the situation.
"If I was the mindset of Brandon Peters," Harbaugh said, "I (would think) he's the starting quarterback. And he should take this job, run with it (and think) nobody is going to take that away from him."
The Wolverines and Gamecocks both bring 8-4 records into the game. They have met in the Outback Bowl before, and that Jan. 1, 2013, meeting is remembered more for a singular play than the actual outcome.
That was the contest in which then-South Carolina star Jadeveon Clowney delivered the hit that went viral and remains one of the fiercest blows in recent college football history.
Clowney broke through the line unblocked and clobbered Michigan's Vincent Smith in the backfield. Smith's helmet went flying and so did the ball with Clowney recovering as the most memorable moment of the Gamecocks' 33-28 victory.
"I'm going to see if he's got a year of eligibility left. Even a quarter," South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said of Clowney as he joked with reporters. "I've seen it a lot, it looked good. I don't know where I was at the time, but I've seen it a bunch. It was a nice hit."
While there are no Clowney-like dominators on the Gamecocks this season, the defense did allow 20 or fewer points in five of their victories.
NOTES: QB Joe Milton from Olympia High in Orlando, Fla., was one of 16 players to sign with the Wolverines on the early signing date of Dec. 20. ... WR Tarik Black, a true freshman recovering from a broken foot, won't South Carolina so he can receive a medical redshirt. ... RB Karan Higdon struggled late in the season with just 125 rushing yards over the final three games and the Wolverines are hoping he can finish strong against a South Carolina defense that ranks 42nd nationally in defending the run (146.7 yards per game). ... DT Maurice Hurst considered skipping the bowl game but the team MVP decided to finish off a superb campaign in which he has 59 tackles, including 13.5 for losses. The senior is the leader of the defense and on his way to being a high NFL draft choice.