Game 13: Wisconsin
Date/Time/Location: 12.30.2017, 20:00, Miami Gardens, FL
|2017-12-10||Troy Fumagalli||TE||Fumagalli will play in the Capital One Orange Bowl despite entering the 2018 NFL Draft.||Prob Sat|
|2017-11-27||Zander Neuville||TE||Neuville sustained a season-ending right leg injury.||out for season|
|2017-11-26||Bradrick Shaw||RB||Shaw has a left leg injury and is expected to miss the remainder of the season.||out for season|
|2017-11-26||Lubern Figaro||DB||Figaro missed the previous game with a leg injury and it is undetermined if he will play in the Capital One Orange Bowl against Miami.||Ques Sat|
|2017-11-26||Noah Burks||LB||Burks is nursing a leg injury and it is undetermined if he will play in the Capital One Orange Bowl against Miami.||Ques Sat|
|2017-11-13||Quintez Cephus||WR||Cephus sustained a season-ending leg injury.||out for season|
|2017-11-06||Luke Benzschawel||TE||Benzschawel has been hampered by a leg injury and did not play in the last three games. It is undetermined if he will play in the Capital One Orange Bowl against Miami.||Ques Sat|
|2017-10-16||P.J. Rosowski||P||Rosowski has been sidelined by a leg injury and it is unknown when he might return to action.||Out indefinitely|
|2017-10-12||Patrick Johnson||S||Johnson suffered an arm injury and is expected to sit out the remainder of the 2017 campaign.||out for season|
|2017-08-27||Jake Whalen||FB||Whalen has yet to play this season due to a head injury and it is unclear when he will make his debut.||Out indefinitely|
|2017-08-27||Mason Stokke||LB||Stokke will miss the entire 2017 season due to a leg injury.||out for season|
|2017-08-27||Sam Brodner||RB||Brodner has a season-ending knee injury.||out for season|
|2017-08-27||Zack Baun||LB||Baun sustained a left foot injury that will sideline him for the entire 2017 season.||out for season|
|2017-08-13||Taiwan Deal||RB||Deal is expected to be sidelined for the remainder of the season due to ankle surgery.||out for season|
|2017-08-10||Jack Cichy||LB||Cichy has been diagnosed with a torn ACL in his right knee and will be out for the season.||out for season|
The Canes and Badgers have only played 4 times, with each team winning a pair. They last played in the 2009 Champs Sports Bowl, with Wisconsin winning 20-14.
The Badgers come into this game at 12-1, and while much of the year they were compared to Miami for being the “overrated” undefeated teams, the actual performance of these teams is quite different. While the Canes struggled with many of the weaker teams on their schedule, including losing to a bad Pitt team, Miami did play a more challenging schedule and actual blew out 2 of the better teams on that schedule. Wisconsin, meanwhile, played a much weaker schedule but also did not get challenged until the B1G championship game. The Badgers only one possession game during the regular season was an 8-point win over Purdue.
So how does Wisconsin do it? Offensively, they rely on Freshman RB Jonathan Taylor, who is an absolute beast. Taylor averages almost 7 YPC, and ran for over 1,800 yards this year. He also scored 13 TDs this year. Ohio State managed to completely shut Taylor down, but that was an exception in an otherwise outstanding season. Job 1 for Miami will be stopping him and forcing QB Alex Hornibrook to beat them. Hornibrook completed 61.6% of his passes this year and threw for 21 TDs. But INTs were a massive problem for him, as he tossed 15. When the Badgers do throw, a lot goes to the TE, Troy Fumagali, who is the Badgers’ leading receiver. The overall statistics show the one-dimensional nature of Wisconsin’s offense. They are 36th overall, but 17th on the ground and only 88th through the air. They are, however, very efficient at 26th.
Wisconsin is amazing on the defensive side of the ball, with unreal metrics across the board. They are 4th in total defense, 9th against the pass, 3rd against the run and 3rd in efficiency. If you think that this is a team that shuts people down without forcing negative plays, you’d be wrong as they are 10th in sacks and 12th in INTs. There is no weakness on this defense and several standout players. LBs Ryan Connelly and TJ Edwards lead the team in tackles. Garrett Dooley is the leading sack man with over 7 on the year rushing from an outside LB position. Edwards also has 4 INTs, which is tied for the team lead. Joe Ferguson also has 4 INTs.
On Special Teams, Wisconsin has one of the best kicking games in the country. Rafael Gaglianone has only missed 2 FGs, and has been good from over 50 this year. He has made all of his extra points. Punter Anthony Lott averages over 40 yards per punt, has 12 punts over 50 yards, and has pinned opponents inside the 20-yard line twenty-five times. Punt returner Nick Nelson did return a punt for a TD this year as well.
What to Expect This Week
Wisconsin is much more solid and consistent than the Canes, and that will be the trend that Miami will need to break to win this game. If the Orange Bowl becomes a battle of execution and a game that is controlled, it will play exactly like Wisconsin wants. So how do the Canes win?
The Badgers are essentially a much better version of Notre Dame, who Miami obviously destroyed.
First, they need to limit the running game. If they can force Hornibrook to beat them consistently, we might see the Turnover Chain make an appearance multiple times. If that happens, it will throw the game into chaos, which is exactly what Miami wants.
Second, on offense, the Canes need to play well up front. Where Wisconsin diverges significantly from Notre Dame is on defense. To be honest, this Canes’ offense versus Badgers’ defense matchup is a massive mismatch in Wisconsin’s favor. But Miami does have weapons and explosive players, and while driving repeatedly might be difficult, big and explosive plays can happen. But for that to happen, the Canes first need to give Rosier time, and he needs to hit open WRs. If that happens, we could see Jeff Thomas, Braxton Berrios and Mike Hartley make big plays.
The discrepancy in punting is also a cause for concern for Miami. If both defenses win, and several punts are exchanged, that would hugely favor the Badgers. Using a baseball analogy, Wisconsin wants this game to be a pitcher’s duel which over time favors them. The Canes want to put up a crooked number and that will win them this game.
This is a big opportunity for Miami. Teams that win these New Years Six bowls always get a big bump in the preseason rankings, which goes a long way in avoiding the perception that Wisconsin and Miami faced for much of this year. I get the sense that Miami fans are underestimating the Badgers here, stereotyping them as a slow, stale Big Ten team. While there are some real questions about the capability of the QB, their running game and defense are no joke. Unfortunately, I think Miami struggles to do much offensively, still missing some of their biggest offensive weapons. Wisconsin wins a low scoring game, but still finds a way to cover.
Wisconsin 21, Miami 13
I am genuinely conflicted when it comes to picking this game. I think Wisconsin’s defense has been elite most of this year, but it also did not really play too many forward-thinking offenses. And frankly, I’m not sure Miami’s offense is forward-thinking, either, unless Malik Rosier is on his A game. Furthermore, while this is forecasted as a home game for Miami, it’s not going to be the same type of crowd as a true Miami home game, which somewhat dampers my expectations as well. However, the Canes seem to be fired up to play in this game which is usually the biggest factor in bowl games. I wish I would know how Rosier is going to play (don’t we all), but here’s hoping for the best.
Miami 31, Wisconsin 27
On paper, Wisconsin appears slightly better than Miami, but the competition they did play was fairly weak. The other thing to look at here is the home-road splits for the Canes. While this is not technically a home game, Miami has been much better at home than away from home. Mark Richt has also been historically strong in bowl games, with a 10-5 record. If the crowd is really into it, and Miami realizes a home field advantage, I think we might see a repeat of Virginia Tech and Notre Dame on a smaller scale. Even without that, in games like this, after a long layoff, I think you see a lot of mistakes from both teams, which generally means bigger plays happen, and that favors the Canes. This is a competitive, physical game, but Miami’s explosive plays make the difference here.
Miami 29, Wisconsin 18