A year ago, Miami went through the regular season at 10–2 before losing to Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl. Despite the loss, the following season’s outlook looked bright for The U. They entered the preseason ranked in the top 10 and many supporters felt that Miami would again contend for an ACC title.
However, the season started on the wrong foot when the Hurricanes were dismantled in the opener by LSU, 33–17. Yet many believed the season could be salvaged, as a loss to LSU on a neutral field was nothing to get too down about. For a good chunk afterward, it appeared that would be the case as Miami bounced back to win five straight games and keep itself in the thick of the college football conversation.
All looked well until the Hurricanes lost a 19–13 slugfest to Virginia. The offense was stagnant under quarterback Malik Rosier and freshman backup N’Kosi Perry wasn’t much better, throwing two interceptions at critical junctions of the game. The loss was only the start of the downward spiral: the Hurricanes then traveled to Boston College and Rozier struggled again, going 19-of-36 and throwing two more poor interceptions in a losing effort. He was benched the following week against Duke and the Hurricanes have stuck with N’Kosi Perry since.
All in all, the Hurricanes dropped four straight in a brutal mid-season stretch but have at least bounced back to salvage a part of the season. Miami went on to win its final two regula- season contests against Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh in dominating fashion, largely because of its defense.
It has been a tale of two sides of the football for The U this season, as the Hurricanes rank No. 2 in total defense but No. 93 in total offense. Mark Richt and co., have relied heavily on the defense to keep the team in games, and for a large part it has: the average margin of loss has been just 9.2 points per game in their five lost contests. They’ve been especially good in the secondary, as the Hurricanes own the nation’s best passing defense. For Wisconsin, as usual, it’ll have to run the ball well to defeat Miami.