Wisconsin has become a familiar post-season foe for Miami, as this will be the 3rd time in the last decade that the teams will meet in a bowl game. Neither of the past 2 contests have ended in favor of the Hurricanes, however, with Wisconsin defeating them 34-24 in the Orange Bowl a season ago, and 20-14 in the 2009 Champs Sports Bowl.
‘Cane fans were hoping for a Gator Bowl-birth, which would allow Miami to stay in-state. The New Year’s Eve contest seemed like a great fit for the program, as Jacksonville is a short drive compared to traveling to New York. Unexpectedly, North Carolina State got the edge over the ‘Canes, sending them to the Pinstripe Bowl instead.
Having defeated Pitt in their regular season finale, the ‘Canes look to continue their payback tour and end the dramatic 2018 season on the upswing.
This season has been disappointing for both programs -- sharing the same 7-5 record despite being ranked in the top-10 before the season began. Miami and Wisconsin were projected to reach their conference championship games and be contenders for the College Football Playoff, but have fallen into mediocrity since the 2017 Orange Bowl.
In order to defeat Wisconsin, Miami must slow down their running game. Being the second-best defense in the nation, Miami should be able to keep their struggling offense in the game. However, holding the 43rd-best offense in the country -- Wisconsin’s offense is still more efficient than Miami’s. Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor may also be the best running back the ‘Canes have faced all year, as he’s amassed 1,989 rushing yards in 2018 -- finding the end zone 15 times.
Stating that Miami’s offense needs to play better is like beating a dead horse, as they’ve underperformed for the majority of the 2018-19 campaign. Their offense may have to be relied upon if Wisconsin has success running the ball though, as they scored 34 points against the ‘Canes in last year’s Orange Bowl game.
While the Pinstripe Bowl may not have been where fans wanted the ‘Canes to play, the matchup offers a sound test and a chance at redemption for Miami. With their record being 1-7 in the last 8 bowl games, a victory in New York would have a lasting positive effect on the program.