Tampa, FL (WLTX) - At USC, Jadeveon Clowney's made plenty of tackles. But it's doubtful any of them have had the impact (literally and figuratively) that the one he made in the Outback Bowl had.
If you saw the game, you know the play. In the 4th quarter, Michigan had just converted a controversial fourth down call (more on that in a moment) and had snapped the ball. Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner handed off the ball to running back Vincent Smith.
What both those offensive players did not see was that Clowney had gotten a great jump off the ball, and went almost unblocked into the backfield. No sooner did the ball enter Smith's hands they he was met by Clowney, who enveloped him in a collision that caused Smith's helmet to fly off his head and tumble five yards behind him. But that wasn't the only thing that came loose: the ball left Smith's hands, and with one free hand Clowney picked it up and recovered it. (A frame-by-frame image breakdown of the hit is above in our photogallery) LINK: Watch the Video
"When I came off the ball it was wide open, I saw him hand off," Clowney said after the game. "I could have took the handoff but I said I'm going for the killer hit."
The play gave the Gamecocks momentum, and on the first offensive play after the turnover, they scored a touchdown.
Clowney might have been taking out the team's collective frustration at the time. On the preceding play, Michigan converted a controversial first down. Replays seem to indicate the Wolverine player didn't get enough for the down, but even after measuring the down, the officials gave the ball to Michigan.
"Clowney knocked the ball out the next play so I'm glad they gave it to him," USC Head Coach Steve Spurrier said. "We gained about 10 to 15 yards, as it turned out."