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December 28, 2012
Jadeveon Clowney ready for challenge from Taylor Lewan
They are stats that every Michigan fan can rattle off instantaneously - all-time winningest program in the history of college football; only team with 900-plus wins; best all-time winning percentage in the sport; 11 national championships; 42 Big Ten Championships; three Heisman winners.
Ultimately, though, those numbers don't mean much to South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
"To you the truth, I don't know a whole lot about their history," Clowney said at an event leading up to next week's Outback Bowl. "We're in this time, and I'm talking about this year. We won 10 this year, trying to win 11. I think they won [eight], trying to win [nine]. I don't care about the history. I'm just trying to win the games we're playing in. I want to win against them. That's what I strive for."
All eyes will be on Clowney and his Michigan offensive counterpart, redshirt junior offensive tackle Taylor Lewan, who will square off in one of the most intriguing and hyped individual matchups of the bowl season.
Both Clowney and Lewan earned Associated Press first-team All-American honors and are pegged as top-flight NFL Draft prospects (possibly in April for Lewan, if he leaves early, and 2014 for Clowney).
And both will have their hands full in the Outback Bowl.
"I take every game as a challenge, getting better against any player," Clowney said. "I don't care who it is or who I'm going up against. I just want to face the best. Obviously he's one of the best.
"I don't care about that. I just want to get the win, whatever it takes. I don't care who I'm going up against. They could put me up against any tackle in the NFL - it doesn't matter. I just go out there and play my game, period."
Clowney leads the country in sacks, amassing 13.0 total this season.
He notched at least one in all but three that he played in (did not play vs. Wofford), including a career-high 4.5 sacks vs. Clemson.
And teams that attempted to leave their tackle one on one with Clowney did not fare well. By his estimation, Clowney struggled the most against LSU and Tennesse this year. The Tigers played max protection and used sliding pass protections to make sure Clowney was accounted for, and the Volunteers constantly chip-blocked him with a tight end, ostensibly double-teaming him.
But Lewan will be the most talented tackle he has seen this season.
"I have watched him a lot lately, which I do for every tackle," Clowney said. "I watch every tackle. I like his game. He's pretty good."
Clowney has been very impressed with Lewan's footwork.
"He moves his feet better than any tackle I went up against," Clowney said. "He moves his feet pretty good. … His feet move at all times. Other guys like to plant their feet and turn. He moves his feet, sits back and shuffles. I'll have to get up on him a lot.
"A lot of tackles have their own game. Certain ones play different, do their own thing. He moves his feet more than any other tackle I have faced. He's got a good game, better than other tackles I've faced.
"He doesn't give up on any block. He's always running downfield to block. I love his game, the way he plays. He plays with attitude and effort. He gives great effort on every play."