Just like 2017, the Miami Hurricanes will conclude their 2018 season facing off against the Wisconsin Badgers, as they prepare to play in the Pinstripe Bowl on Thursday at Yankee Stadium. Last time these two teams met was last years Orange Bowl, with Wisconsin coming away with a 34-24 victory.
Both programs come into this game having limped through 2018, each entering Thursday with a record of 7-5. Mark Richt and Paul Chryst’s teams were each ranked in the preseason top 10, then stumbled to disappointing seasons.
The Canes won their last two games of the regular season, and are in desperate need of a bowl game victory as they look to the future. For the Badgers, they dropped three of their last five games.
Because the game will be played in cold New York City at Yankee Stadium, Miami will already be at a disadvantage. On offense, it’s still uncertain who will be starting at quarterback for the Hurricanes, with N’Kosi Perry having gotten into trouble earlier in the week. If Perry is suspended, expect Richt to start redshirt senior Malik Rosier. Rosier has been the on-again off-again starter for the last two years, and struggled mightily against Wisconsin in last years Orange Bowl, throwing three interceptions.
One thing that’ll help Rosier out is if freshman tight end Brevin Jordan will play. Battling an ankle injury, Jordan could make a huge difference in the Miami offense come Thursday.
KAAYA FILM STUDY: Now, here is the thing no one wants to hear but Miami did make adjustments in the 2nd half.— 5Rings_Canes (@5Rings_Canes) October 16, 2018
As you can see, against a change pressure look, Miami used Brevin Jordan to chip and release for a 22 yard gain. pic.twitter.com/6vgnzUDI1V
Most likely though, Miami will have to rely on their running game in order to beat the Badgers. Both Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas have rushed for over 500 yards in 2018, and each found the end zone last time these two teams met.
2ème TD des Hurricanes ! Un jeu Wildcat conclu par une course de 39 yards de RB DeeJay Dallas ! Déjà 120 yards au sol pour les Floridiens dans ce 1er QT.— TBP College Football (@thebluepennant) December 31, 2017
Miami 14, Wisconsin 3#OrangeBowl pic.twitter.com/33ahUaj4Re
Defensively, Miami will be without All-American defensive tackle Gerald Willis III, but still brings a top-tier defense to the table. Manny Diaz will be coaching his last game as defensive coordinator before he heads to Temple permanently. The Hurricanes are allowing just 18.6 points per game, and the Badgers will also be without quarterback Alex Hornibrook.
Miami Hurricanes Defense in 2018— NCAAF Nation (@NCAAFNation247) December 6, 2018
⚪ 1st in Passing Defense only allowing 1,690 yards
⚪ Gave up the 3rd fewest amount of yards in 2018 with 3,220
⚪ 22nd in Rushing Defense
⚪ 11th in Sacks
⚪ Tied for 14th in INTs
Still finished 7-5 pic.twitter.com/f3gUTR9lHZ
With Hornibrook out, Miami will shift nearly all of their attention to Badger running back Jonathan Taylor, who is just 11 yards away from eclipsing 2,000 for the season. Taylor also captured the Doak Walker Award. The Canes have one of the best run defenses in the nation, and if they can shut down Taylor, they’ll have a great shot at winning.
Slightly out-performing Miami’s offense throughout the year, the Badgers averaged 30.9 points a game, with a majority of that offensive firepower coming from Taylor and the rushing attack. Replacing Hornibrook at quarterback will be Jack Coan, who has thrown for four touchdowns and two interceptions this year as the backup. Still, Miami’s pass defense allows just 140.8 yards through the air per game, the lowest average allowed by an ACC team over the last 10 years.
One of the biggest matchups will be Wisconsin’s offensive line up against the defensive line for the Hurricanes, both of which are very talented units. So pay close attention to defensive ends Joe Jackson and Jonathan Garvin for Miami.
For the first time in PFF history – a college offensive line takes EVERY offensive line spot on our Team of the Week as Wisconsin dominates the Big Ten Offense of the Weekhttps://t.co/DuJA7wNqqQ pic.twitter.com/DkKaPS3pM8— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 23, 2018
On defense, Wisconsin took a giant step backwards from their dominance last year. While they totaled 42 sacks in 2017, they’ve only racked up 18 this season. They gave up an average of 13.9 points per game, in 2018 they’ve given up 24.3 points per game. Though, they still have first-team All-Big Ten linebacker TJ Edwards, who’s been a tackling machine with 103 takedowns on the year.
Incredible play by Wisconsin LB TJ Edwards— Coach Dan Casey (@CoachDanCasey) February 8, 2018
- Run Read
- Drop in the Dig window
- Cover the Under
- Tackle RB in flat for 1yd gain
Though this game won't mean much at all in terms of records, this is an absolute must win game for Miami. With all of the negativity surrounding this program for the last two months, to come away with a bowl victory over a Wisconsin team would very much make the offseason easier for Mark Richt and the UM program. The formula has been the same all season, don’t turn the ball over and establish the run. Don’t let Jonathan Taylor run wild, and Miami should be able to walk away with a victory.