Game Summary - January 1, 2001
15th Anniversary Game
Outback Bowl officials couldn't have asked for a better match-up to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the bowl. Coach Lou Holtz would lead his South Carolina team against the Ohio State Buckeyes in a New Year's Day Bowl just one year after going 0-11.
The game sold out just one day after announcing the teams as more than 30,000 Gamecock faithful would follow their team to Tampa. And they would not be disappointed.
On cold but sunny New Year's morning an unlikely hero would emerge from the game as wide receiver Ryan Brewer would start the game at running back for the Gamecocks in place of 1,000-yard rusher Derek Watson who was suspended for the bowl game for breaking team rules.
Brewer was a former "Mr. Ohio" in football, but chose to follow Holtz to USC when the Buckeyes didn't show much interest. Brewer would now have his chance to show the Buckeyes what they missed and Holtz, also from Ohio, would have a chance to coach against a school where he once was an assistant under the great Woody Hayes.
The game was a defensive battle early. USC held the Buckeyes on fourth down deep in their territory and both teams missed field goals, but South Carolina mustered a 3-0 lead at the half. The second half would be different. The Buckeyes began with a turnover on the first possession losing a fumble on their own 28 yard line. That setup the Gamecocks who ran seven running plays capped by a Ryan Brewer 7-yard TD to take a 10-0 lead. But, the Buckeyes would come back later in the quarter with 65 yard pass to Ken-Yon Rambo that setup an Ohio State TD that cut the lead to three points.
After trading punts, and a Buckeye penalty, USC again had great field position taking over at the Buckeyes 43 yard line. Four plays later QB Phil Petty found Brewer for a 28 yard TD reception to stretch the lead to 17-7. The Gamecock defense would only allow Ohio State past mid-field one time the rest of the game and Brewer would add a third TD of the day in the fourth quarter as the Gamecocks would go on to win 24-7.
Brewer was voted the games MVP with 109 yards rushing, 92 yards receiving and 3 TDs in beating the team from his home state. And the Gamecocks would complete the greatest single season turnaround in Division IA football history.