Miami (7-5) vs. Wisconsin (6-6)
Location: New York City | When: Dec. 27 (5:15 p.m.) | TV: ESPN | Line: Miami -3
HOW THESE TEAMS GOT HERE
Miami: After a disappointing season-opening loss to LSU, Miami reeled off five consecutive wins and moved up to No. 16 in the rankings. But things went south from there. The Hurricanes lost four straight in ACC play to fall to 5-5 before rallying with wins over Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh to clinch a bowl berth. The Hurricanes were ranked No. 8 to start the season, so it has been a disappointing season for Mark Richt’s program.
Wisconsin: Like Miami, Wisconsin — the preseason No. 4 team — had a majorly disappointing season. After a 2-0 start, the Badgers were upset at home by BYU. A few weeks later, the Badgers were destroyed by Michigan in Ann Arbor, putting an end to any remote CFP hopes that still may have lingered. By the time the regular season ended, Wisconsin went 7-5 with losses to Northwestern, Penn State and Minnesota. The loss to Minnesota was UW’s first in the series since 2003.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH
You would think that two preseason top 10 teams playing in a bowl would be fun, but this one might not have too much juice. If it does, perhaps it is because Miami is after some revenge for last year’s Orange Bowl, a 34-24 win by Wisconsin. But this game will be played at frigid Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. The cold weather is an obvious advantage for Wisconsin.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Shaquille Quarterman, LB, Miami: Miami has the second-best defense in the country, and Quarterman is one of the headliners, especially with lineman Gerald Willis out with a hand injury. Quarterman, a junior, is second on the team with 76 tackles to go with 13 tackles for loss and five sacks. As a defense, Miami allows an average of 268.3 yards and 18.2 points per game. However, this game will be played without coordinator Manny Diaz, the Temple head coach.
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin: Taylor was the focal point of the Wisconsin offense once again with 1,989 yards and 15 touchdowns on the year. The sophomore finished in the top 10 of the Heisman voting for the second straight season. This year he was ninth after finishing sixth as a true freshman last fall when he put up 1,977 yards and 13 scores. He’ll carry a big load with usual starting QB Alex Hornibrook sidelined with concussion symptoms.
WHAT’S ON THE LINE
Miami: There’s not a ton at stake here for Miami, but a win would give fans some better vibes as we enter what could prove to be a pivotal offseason for Mark Richt. The Hurricanes have a lot to figure out on the offensive side of the ball. Maybe this game can be a jumping off point while giving the program a second bowl win in three years under Richt.
Wisconsin: Wisconsin has a four-year bowl winning streak on the line. The Badgers can also reach at least eight wins for the 10th consecutive season.
Nick Bromberg: Wisconsin 11, Miami 8
Sam Cooper: Wisconsin 20, Miami 17
Pat Forde: Miami 21, Wisconsin 16
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