Wisconsin was strong in all facets of the game against Miami, despite poor performances from the receivers and secondary.[/media-credit]

Every week, Herald Sports takes a look back at the Wisconsin football game and grades the position groups on a scale of zero to five.

Here is how the Badgers fared in the Champs Sports Bowl versus the Miami Hurricanes:

Quarterbacks — 3.5 of 5

With the cornerbacks from “The U” all but shutting down his receivers on the perimeter, it would not have been surprising if junior Scott Tolzien struggled to find anyone open in the Badgers’ bowl game. What the Hurricanes forgot, however, was how big of a factor tight ends can be in the game plan for head coach Bret Bielema’s squad.

Tight ends Garrett Graham and Lance Kendricks caught a combined 13 passes for 205 yards to comprise the majority of the UW passing game. On the day, Tolzien finished with 260 yards on 19-of-26 passing with one interception.

Running backs — 5 of 5

Considering sophomore John Clay was named game MVP, this one is a bit of a no-brainer. Clay tallied 121 yards on the ground against Miami on 22 carries while also finding the end zone twice.

When Clay was out of the game, however, the team really never missed a beat. Freshman Montee Ball stepped up as he has in the past, carrying the ball 15 times for 61 yards in the game and keeping the Wisconsin offense going in the third quarter.

The Badgers’ third option out of the backfield, junior Zach Brown, did not carry the ball in the game, but caught one pass for nine yards.

Wide receivers — 1 of 5

This number would be lower, were it not for the fact that Miami’s cornerbacks are among the best in the nation. Still, only two catches for 26 yards is a terrible performance, and Nick Toon was the only Badger receiver to pull in a pass.

Aside from those three plays, though, the UW receivers were generally nonexistent in the game. Freshman Kraig Appleton did make an impact, but it was not a positive one. Appleton was called for a pair of bad penalties that hampered the UW offense.

Tight ends — 5 of 5

This group did everything the Badgers needed in the Champs Sports Bowl. They caught passes when no one else was open and they provided excellent blocking up front for Clay and Ball out of the backfield.

Perhaps more importantly, however, Kendricks showed everyone just what he is capable of as a pass-catching tight end. The junior hauled in seven passes from Tolzien, picking up 128 yards and helping the Badgers move the ball down the field.

Graham, on the other hand, ended his career at Wisconsin with a typical understated performance. The fifth-year senior caught six balls for 77 yards, but went largely unnoticed due to the strong play of Kendricks and Clay.

Offensive Line — 5 of 5

If the UW running backs had reached 200 yards on the night, the Badgers’ front line might have gotten a perfect score. But since they posted just 182 yards on the ground, they get a respectable 4.5.

Overall, the O-Line was too much for the smaller, faster Miami defensive front, and its dominance was reflected in the words of John Moffitt, who acknowledged it was running pretty simple plays by the end of the game with Miami’s defense worn down by the Badgers’ size.

Defensive Line — 5 of 5

While everyone looks at the Wisconsin offense responding to being down by seven in the opening minute, it was the defense that really kept the Badgers in the game. On that defense, no other unit performed as well as the line, which ensured Miami quarterback Jacory Harris never got comfortable in Orlando.

Defensive ends J.J. Watt and O’Brien Schofield combined for three of Wisconsin’s five sacks, as well as four of the Badgers’ nine tackles for loss. Patrick Butrym and Louis Nzegwu combined to add 1 1/2 tackles for loss, while Nzegwu added a half sack.

Linebackers — 4 of 5

If it wasn’t Watt or Schofield getting to the quarterback, it was probably linebacker Chris Borland, who added two tackles for loss and a sack in the game.

Senior linebacker Jaevery McFadden tied for second on the team with five tackles in his final game as a Badger, while Culmer St. Jean and Borland added three and two, respectively.

Secondary — 2 of 5

By pure statistical analysis, it would appear as though the Wisconsin secondary performed relatively well. Harris completed just 16-of-29 passes on the night for just 188 yards and a touchdown.

The reason for Harris’ poor numbers had more to do with the Miami quarterback, however, than Wisconsin’s secondary. Several times Harris overthrew wide open Hurricane receivers who had beaten a Badger cornerback.

Considering UW’s starting cornerbacks and safeties make up four of the Badgers’ top five tacklers in the game, it’s clear they performed best in tackling their opponents rather than preventing completions.

Special Teams – 4 of 5

At least one reporter at the Florida Citrus Bowl voted for punter Brad Nortman as game MVP and with good reason. When the Badgers’ offense struggled, Nortman proved invaluable, putting three punts inside the Miami 20, including one that was downed at the 1-yard line.

Even kicker Philip Welch was fairly reliable on the night, connecting on a pair of extra point attempts and two fields goals from 37 and 29 yards.

As usual, David Gilreath called for a fair catch five of six times while picking up just one yard on his only return. On two kickoffs, the junior picked up 40 yards with a long of 21 yards.