"The Hit" is widely considered to mark the turning point in the game for South Carolina and it earned a "Best Play" ESPY Award for South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney.
"The Hit" refers to a play by Defensive End Jadeveon Clowney which occurred midway during the fourth quarter of play. After a Wolverines fake punt, followed by a controversial call awarding Michigan a first down during a critical time consuming drive, Clowney gained instant fame for his violent tackle of Michigan running back Vincent Smith that came with 8:21 remaining in the fourth quarter. "The Hit" dislodged Smith's helmet and forced a fumble that Clowney himself recovered,. "The Hit" set-up another controversial call, a touchdown pass to wide receiver Ace Sanders on the next play. Although "The Hit" itself did not result in the game winning touchdown, it is considered by many to have motivated a previously lethargic Gamecock offense to rally and ultimately win the game.
Twenty-two seconds in Tampa, and three reviews. The entire series of events, three plays total, that encompassed "The Hit" are most noteworthy for the short amount of time that elapsed off of the game clock from beginning to end. A total of only 22 seconds ticked-off the clock from the time Michigan snapped the ball and executed the fake punt, until the time Ace Sanders caught the touchdown pass. With 8:28 remaining in the 4th quarter of the game, Michigan went for the fake punt. The spot of the ball was placed under review by the booth. Once the spot of the ball was confirmed, followed by the controversial first down call, "The Hit" occurred with exactly 8:21 remaining in the game and the clock was allowed to click-down to 8:15. After review in the booth to determine if Smith had indeed fumbled the ball before being ruled down, the Gamecocks took possession of the ball and on their first play Connor Shaw connected with Ace Sanders for a touchdown with 8:06 remaining in the game. Sanders' touchdown catch was also reviewed to confirm both that his foot was down in the field of regulation, and that he had possession of the ball, as he was tackled out of the back of the endzone. All three plays consecutive in the series having been placed under review in the booth and all three consecutive plays totaling a mere 22 seconds.