MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — When the 2017 Big Ten Championship game concluded in defeat for the University of Wisconsin on Dec. 2, 2017, Andrew Van Ginkel’s game-changing takeaways faded into the background of a loss that dashed the Badgers’ College Football Playoff hopes.
That night against Ohio State, the junior’s pick-six and forced fumble in the first half were crucial in UW’s attempt to climb back from an early deficit and even give itself a chance to win.
His interception in the 2017 Orange Bowl against 11th-ranked Miami (10-3) became much more than a great effort in a lost cause.
With the sixth-ranked Badgers (13-1) sputtering towards a second straight defeat, Van Ginkel stepped in front of a wide receiver screen intended for Braxton Berrios on the Miami 23-yard line.
That three-second play turned the game upside down and sparked a string of 21 unanswered points for the Badgers in their 34-24 victory at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. The win was UW’s fourth straight in a bowl game and its 13th of the 2017 season, a program record.
“That’s back-to-back (games) that he’s made great plays in these big-time games,” UW inside linebacker T.J. Edwards said after the game. “He does it all day in practice, and he’s just an absolute spark plug.”
Miami totaled 153 yards and 14 points on its first three drives. The Hurricanes recorded minus-3 yards on eight plays over their next three — starting with Van Ginkel’s interception — all while UW quarterback Alex Hornibrook threw three straight touchdown passes to flip a 14-3 deficit into a 24-14 halftime advantage.
Danny Davis elevated over cornerback Dee Delaney for a 20-yard touchdown on third-and-7 after Van Ginkel’s interception, and Hornibrook found A.J. Taylor near the back corner of the end zone on UW’s next drive, giving the Badgers a 17-14 lead with 5:49 left in the second quarter.
The touchdown to Taylor marked Hornibrook’s 23rd touchdown pass of the 2017 season, the second most for a UW quarterback in a single season, trailing only the 33 Russell Wilson threw in 2011.
Perhaps Hornibrook’s most impressive stretch, however, came on his third touchdown drive. The sophomore completed a 10-yard pass to Taylor on third-and-7 before firing an impressive 21-yard strike to Kendric Pryor on third-and-11 after sliding away from pressure.
The latter moved the Badgers to Miami’s 10-yard line, and Hornibrook found Davis for another touchdown to put UW up 24-14 with 0:28 left in the half.
Hornibrook completed 10-of-12 passes for 114 yards over those three second-quarter possessions, and he connected on all six of his passes for 74 yards on a fourth-quarter touchdown drive. That march ended with yet another toss in the end zone to Davis, increasing UW’s lead to 34-24 with 7:44 remaining and essentially putting the game out of reach.