Due to Hurricane Irma, the Miami Hurricanes ended the regular season playing 11 straight weeks. It was undoubtedly affecting the team: many players were playing hurt and gassed, including starting QB Malik Rosier’s injured throwing shoulder, and the last time we saw the Canes, everything snowballed into a beatdown at the hands of the #1 Clemson Tigers in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte.
So, after a month off, everyone wanted to see how Miami would respond to finally getting some rest.
The answer? Not good.
3 interceptions by Malik Rosier and 2 missed field goals by Michael Badgley were the difference and, on a day when Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor surpassed Adrian Peterson to become the all-time leader in rushing yards by a freshman in FBS history, the Wisconsin Badgers came into Hard Rock Stadium and snatched their first ever Orange Bowl victory, defeating the Miami Hurricanes, 34-24.
Miami’s speed advantage was apparent from the opening kick, but it didn’t matter for Orange Bowl MVP Alex Hornibrook; the Wisconsin sophomore QB was fitting balls into tight windows all night and looked to be a master of the back shoulder throw, hitting that read for 3 TD’s and 4 TD’s total. He was complimented with consistent chunk runs by Jonathan Taylor, as the record-breaking true freshman galloped for 130 yards on 26 carries.
Contrary to the typical Miami start, the Canes began fast, jumping out to a 14-3 first quarter lead behind TD runs by Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas. Dallas’ TD in particular was highlight reel worthy; the high school QB took a direct snap out of the wildcat formation, danced free of a few tackle attempts, and burst up the sidelines for a 39 yard score. Dallas finished with 8 carries for a career high 69 yards on the day, adding a 22 yard catch to his statline as well.
Miami looked to be in complete control but, almost on cue, they began shooting themselves in the foot. Near their own 20, Rosier didn’t see DE Andrew Van Ginkel dropping into coverage and tried to force a quick hitter to Braxton Berrios. Van Ginkel got his hands on the pass and made the pick, setting the Badgers up in prime position at UM’s 23.
The story was Hornibrook, though, and it was at this point he took flight. His first of 4 touchdown passes started a run of 21 unanswered points by Wisconsin. Hornibrook threw a back shoulder streak to Danny Davis down the right sideline; Dee Delaney had great coverage, but did not get his head around in time. Davis came down with the ball, just stretching over the goal line while falling out of bounds.
As the Miami offense struggled and piled up 3-and-outs, Hornibrook stayed aflame; touchdown throws to AJ Taylor and Davis again just before halftime pushed the Badgers’ lead to 24-14. Nothing was going right for Miami and coach Mark Richt even picked up an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the final drive before half, verbally undressing an official after a missed holding call against DE Trent Harris.
In their home stadium, Miami wasn’t about to just lay down for the Badgers, though. After trading 3-and-outs to start the half, Rosier rolled away from pressure to the right. Lawrence Cager, who had a career high 4 catches accompanying a career high 76 yards, stayed with the play and broke off his crossing route, electing to go deep instead. His man did not follow, and Cager was all alone; Rosier made the easy pitch for the 38 yard TD.
The good feels would not last for the Canes, however. After Rafael Gaglianone and Badgley traded FG’s, Hornibrook led an expert drive down the field, going 6-6 for 74 yards mostly working his All-Conference tight end Troy Fumagalli. The Badgers then found the endzone again, with Davis making his 3rd touchdown catch of the day on another back shoulder throw by Hornibrook.
At 34-24 midway through the fourth quarter, it was looking bleak for the Canes, but Rosier hit Jeff Thomas for his first catch of the game running behind the defense on an absolute bomb. The 48 yard reception set UM up first-and-goal at the Wisconsin 10, but the Canes were unable to punch it in the endzone; it would come back to cost them when Badgley hit a chip shot 24 yarder off the right upright no good.
The goose was pretty much cooked for Miami at that point. And, get this: Malik Rosier also became the all-time leader in TD’s accounted for in a season in Miami history during today’s game (31). On his final throw of the game, in what may be his last game starting at the U, Rosier threw a pick right to Wisconsin LB Ryan Connelly. There’s some shred of irony to be found within those statements, but I’ll leave it to you, the fanbase, to tell me exactly what it is.
Miami won the toss and deferred to the ball to the second half. After a long return by Derrick Tindal, Wisconsin was unable to do much on first and second down. Alex Hornibrook hit AJ Taylor on a post for 18 on third and long to pick up a first down.
On the very next play, UW running back Jonathan Taylor broke into the second level for a gain of 14, but a Jaquan Johnson hit popped the ball loose and Dee Delaney was there for the recovery. The call on the field was that Taylor was down by contact, but replay review showed the ball starting to move just before his knee touched. On the very first drive, we had our first Turnover Chain of the day.
We didn't have to wait long for the first Turnover Chain sighting pic.twitter.com/OFZdm3aVxw— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 31, 2017
Starting on their own 31, Malik Rosier found Lawrence Cager on a quick slant to gain 11 yards. Then, it was Travis Homer finding room on the right side of the line, bursting upfield for 20. The Canes would stall from there, though: two Miami runs went nowhere, and a third down pass to Braxton Berrios was broken up. Mark Richt decided to go for a long field goal, but Michael Badgley’s 53 yard attempt wasn’t even close.
The Badgers took to the ground immediately to move the ball downfield. Runs of 14 and 19 yards by Jonathan Taylor put Wisconsin in the red zone, but Miami held strong from there, with a third down Hornibrook fade into the end zone going off the fingertips of Trajan Bandy for a potential interception. Rafael Gaglianone knocked through a 35 yard field goal to start the scoring. 3-0 UW.
A kick out of the endzone had Miami starting on their own 25. It was a drive of chunk plays, and Rosier took off on a read option for a gain of 16 yards on first down. Next, Rosier checked down to DeeJay Dallas running free on the left out of the backfield and Dallas scooted up the sidelines for a 22 yard pickup. Dallas gained another 4 on a off-tackle run to the right, then Rosier pulled down a read option, got a block and powered past the first down marker for 9.
Running behind Navaughn Donaldson and Tyree St. Louis, Dallas got hit just past the line, but broke a tackle and picked up 8 yards. Homer picked up 11 runnning left down to the 5, then Rosier, out of the shotgun, handed off on a draw to Homer. Homer sped through the line and was just able to stretch the ball over the goal line as he fell down. Touchdown Miami! 6 runs and 1 pass on that drive for the Canes, spanning 75 yards. 7-3 UM.
Wisconsin went 3-and-out on their next possession, and a weak punt gave the Canes great field position on the Badgers’ 45. Out of the wildcat, Dallas ran for 6 on first down. On the next play, Dallas took another direct snap running right, bounced off a tackle and had nothing but green grass in front of him, scampering 39 yards for the second Miami touchdown of the day. 14-3 Miami.
Starting at their own 18, Wisconsin called back-to-back runs to Jonathan Taylor to pick up a first down. A Chris James 2 yard run and a Hornibrook throwaway brought up 3rd down. Hornibrook shook a rusher and rolled out to find Kendric Pryor breaking away from Jhavonte Dean for a gain of 27, but the play was brought back by a David Edwards WWE takedown of Trent Harris. On third-and-long, it was Harris getting into the backfield and forcing a rushed Hornibrook pass that was nowhere near his target. Wisconsin punter Anthony Lotti punted it away.
Miami looked to be in complete control but, almost on cue, they began shooting themselves in the foot. Homer ran backwards for a 5 yard loss, then Rosier didn’t see DE Andrew Van Ginkel dropping into coverage and tried to forced a quick hitter to Berrios. Van Ginkel got his hands on the pass and made the pick, setting the Badgers up in prime position at UM’s 23.
3 plays later, Wisconsin had their first TD of the game. Hornibrook threw a streak to Danny Davis down the right sideline; Delaney had great coverage but did not get his head around and Davis came down with the ball and stretched over the goal line falling out of bounds. 14-10 Miami.
It was another comedy of errors on offense for Miami on their next possession. First play, false start by St. Louis. Then, KC McDermott misread a twist by Wisconsin and didn’t pick up his man, Olive Sagapolu, who sacked Rosier. An incompletion and a short pass to Berrios brought out Zach Feagles for the punt.
Coming off his touchdown pass on the last drive, Hornibrook started to heat up. He went 5-5 in marching the Badgers down the field, emphasized by a highlight play from Wisconsin fullback Austin Ramesh, who grabbed a pass in the flat and hurdled Dee Delaney for a gain of 13. The drive culminated in a 16 yard TD pass to AJ Taylor, with Hornibrook lofting a dime that was just out of reach for Sheldrick Redwine. 17-14 Badgers.
Miami went 3-and-out again featuring a 3rd down sack by Van Ginkel. From their own 38, Wisconsin kept it on the ground to Taylor twice, gaining 3. On third-and-7, Hornibrook found AJ Taylor in the slot on a quick slant to pick up a first. Another quick slant, this time to Davis, gained 12 and Pryor beat Dean on third-and-long to catch a 21 yarder down to the Miami 10. Mark Richt was livid about a missed hold against Trent Harris during the play and picked up an unsportsmanlike penalty, moving the ball to the 5. Just before halftime, Hornibrook found Davis on a crossing route in the endzone. 24-14 Wisconsin.
After a 15 yard Jeff Thomas kick return, Homer ended the half with a 5 yard run. Total yards at half: 240 UW 155 UM.
Miami received the ball out of the half and moved it to midfield on two plays: one, a Rosier weaving run where he started right, then found room and blockers to the left for a 20 yard pick-up; two, an 8 yard run by Homer. Homer was stuffed for no gain on a second down run and Rosier’s pass to a well-covered Darrell Langham fell incomplete. Feagles on to punt.
Wisconsin took the ball from their own 14. Two Jonathan Taylor runs gained 7, but on third down, it was Chad Thomas breaking through the line to sack Hornibrook and Lotti came on to punt it away.
Two Malik Rosier passes later, Miami was in the endzone. After a diving 8 yard catch by Mike Harley, Rosier rolled away from pressure to the right. Cager stayed with the play and broke off his crossing route, electing to go deep. His man did not follow, and Cager was all alone; Rosier made the easy throw for the 38 yard TD. 24-21 Miami.
After a Badgers 3-and-out, Rosier stayed on fire: he hit Berrios on back-to-back plays for gains of 16 and 21 down to the Wisconsin 24. A deep throw by Rosier to Langham went out of bounds. Then, disaster struck: Rosier tried to go up top to Cager in the endzone, but Tindal undercut the route and secured Wisconsin’s second pick of the day.
At their own 20, UW ran with Jonathan Taylor for 2, then Hornibrook hit Davis for 13 and a first down. Next, Hornibrook rolled out to the left and found Ramesh in the flats and he rumbled for 12. Back-to-back rushes by Jonathan Taylor brought up 3rd-and-5; however, Wisconsin again converted, this time on a 18 yard grab by AJ Taylor to the UM 30.
Wisconsin went play action deep down the middle on first down to All-Conference tight end Troy Fumagalli, but Darrion Owens was there to make a great pass breakup by getting his hands between the receiver and the ball and prying it free. James ran for a loss of 1 and, on 3rd-and-11, Hornibrook checked down to Jonathan Taylor who was quickly wrapped up for a gain of 2. Gaglianone came out and converted the long 47 yard FG. 27-21 Badgers.
Miami started their next drive in the wildcat; Dallas picked up 11 right out of the gate, but was quickly stuffed on his next 2 runs and Rosier’s pass to Cager on third down fell incomplete. Feagles’ punt had UW beginning on their own 23. Two straight runs by Jonathan Taylor went for 22 and put him over 100 on the day. The drive stalled from there, though: two Garrett Groshek runs lost one, and a wayward Hornibrook pass went out of bounds. Lotti punted it away.
A weak start to the drive had Miami in third-and-8; however, Rosier threaded the needle with an anticipation throw in tight coverage to the sidelines, and Cager came down with it for 13 and a first. The Canes went deep to Harley on the next play, and he was mugged way before the ball got there for a pass interference call. An incompletion and an Alec James sack of Rosier brought up 3rd-and-12, but Rosier again found Cager on a crossing route past the sticks for 14.
From Wisconsin’s 28, Rosier nearly threw an interception trying to fit a ball into double coverage to Homer, however it went off the hands of the UW defender. Rosier threw to Michael Irvin II on a short curl for 4, and on third down, Rosier’s pass to an open Berrios on an out route was batted down at the line. Richt sent out Badgley, and this time the senior kicker knocked it through from 41 yards out. 27-24 UW.
Hornibrook found Jonathan Taylor for 13 yards out of the backfield to start the drive, then went down the middle to AJ Taylor running free for 24. Fumagalli’s first catch of the night gained 15 and just like that Wisconsin was on Miami’s 23. Rachid Ibrahim’s run went nowhere, but another Fumagalli catch for 12 gave UW a first down. Hornibrook went back to Fumagalli yet again on a throwback to pickup 4, and UW was in the endzone on the next play, with Davis catching his third TD pass of the night on another back shoulder throw by Hornibrook. 34-24 UW.
It looked bleak for Miami with the clock running down midway through the 4th quarter, but Rosier hit Jeff Thomas for his first catch of the game running behind the defense on an absolute bomb. The 48 yard reception set UM up first-and-goal at the Wisconsin 10, but the Canes were unable to punch it in the endzone; it would come back to cost them when Badgley hit a chip shot 24 yarder off the right upright no good.
#Miami true fresh WR Jeff Thomas with a nice 48 yard reception. Shows off his acceleration, ability to separate, speed, ball tracking and awareness. Gonna be a stud in 2018 #devy @DFF_Devy pic.twitter.com/jtm86GUGJs— Jason DiRienzo (@allpurposeyrd8g) December 31, 2017
Wisconsin got into “Burn the Clock” mode, and two straight runs to Jonathan Taylor picked up 9. On third-and-one? It was Ramesh on a fullback dive for 3 and Wisconsin had a first down. Then, James gained 6 on a stretch play, and Jonathan Taylor was stuffed on back-to-back runs to bring on Lotti for the punt. With the clock under 2 minutes, Miami had a chance to make the score look good, but Rosier threw a pick right to Ryan Connelly and Wisconsin kneeled the game to a close. Final: UW 34 UM 24.
And with that, the 2017 season comes to a close. 3 straight losses to end the year is a tough way to go out, and like coach Richt said after the game, nobody likes to lose, but there was undeniable progress made in many areas of the program this season. 10 straight wins, 15 overall dating back to last season, beating FSU for the first time in seven years, winning the Coastal for the first time ever: this team has a lot to be proud of and can go into the off-season with their heads held high and ready to work.