Miami Hurricanes vs. Wisconsin Badgers (+4)
Thu., December 27, 5:15 p.m. ET
Three things to know before betting on Miami-Wisconsin:
1. When Miami faced Wisconsin in last year’s Orange Bowl, the Badgers won 34-24 as 6.5-point favorites. Despite the game being decided by only 10 points, it was actually a dominant performance in favor of Wisconsin. The Badgers forced the Hurricanes to commit three turnovers in that game, and Wisconsin also racked up 400 yards of total offense.
It is, however, going to be a much different game this year. Despite both of these teams being ranked in the top 10 to start the season, both the Hurricanes and the Badgers stunk it up on a weekly basis—and seemingly lost their identities along the way. Miami, a program that can usually be counted on to be exciting to watch, was miserable offensively. And Wisconsin, a school that is normally impossible to score on, couldn’t stop anybody. Needless to say, what happened last year doesn’t matter at all here. But one thing that should be taken into consideration is the fact that Miami is 12-3 against the spread when coming off a win by at least 17 points over the last three seasons. And the Hurricanes are also 10-2 against the spread when allowing 14 or fewer points in their previous game in that span.
2. Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor has been one of the best players in college football in back-to-back years. The sophomore took home the Doak Walker Award honors, as Taylor rushed for 1,989 yards with 15 touchdowns this year. Taylor improved upon last year’s 1,977-yard, 13-touchdown season, and he’ll be a frontrunner to win the Heisman Trophy next year. The problem for Taylor—and Wisconsin—is that Miami is allowing just 3.3 yards per carry this season. The Hurricanes have one of the best defensive lines in the nation, and the linebackers get in there and stuff the run as well. Despite the fact that Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook threw for 258 yards with four touchdowns and no picks against Miami last year, the same performance can’t be expected here. Hornibrook regressed significantly in 2018, and he’s more likely to throw multiple interceptions than touchdowns in this one.
3. Over the final two weeks of the regular season, Wisconsin allowed 40.5 points per game in contests against Purdue and Minnesota. In a win over the Boilermakers, the Badgers allowed 386 yards through the air. They then let the Golden Gophers rush for 201 yards in one of the most embarrassing losses in program history—a 37-15 defeat as 11-point favorites in Camp Randall, their first loss against Minnesota in 14 years. The bottom line is that this Wisconsin defense isn’t particularly good in any respect. The Badgers are usually physical up front, but teams have had success running against them this year. That’s good news for Miami, as the Hurricanes aren’t a great passing team. But in running backs Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas, the team has two guys that should be able to make some plays against Wisconsin. Considering the way the Hurricanes defense is expected to play here, it won’t take many plays for Miami to win handily.
Pick: Miami -4
Confidence Level: High (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)