A pair of disappointed teams will meet in Miami to face off in the 2017 Orange Bowl when the University of Wisconsin travels to Hard Rock stadium to face off with the Miami Hurricanes. The Badgers saw their undefeated season and playoff hopes come to an end Saturday night at the hands of Ohio State.
The Hurricanes suffered a similar fate when they got shellacked 38-3 by Clemson in the ACC championship game.
With this game not only being played in Miami but in Hard Rock Stadium, the Hurricanes home field, Miami certainly has the advantage.
The Hurricanes went 7-0 at home this season most notably their dominating 41-8 win against then No. 3 Notre Dame. Miami, however, is sputtering coming into this game. Not only did they lose conference championship but they lost the week before against a five-win Pittsburgh team.
Wisconsin enters the game on a similarly sour note. The Badgers playoff hopes were shattered with their 27-21 loss to Ohio State. Their inability to be effective through the air was costly as the Badgers fell behind early and couldn’t make up the deficit.
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One of the key battles in this one will be the Wisconsin offensive line against the Miami defensive line. Wisconsin runs for almost 230 yards a game, which ranks 9th among Power Five teams.
The run game has been the Badgers bread and butter for years and is key not only in their running attack but for setting up the play action pass. This was evident during the Big Ten championship as star running back Jonathan Taylor ran for a season low 41 yards, creating issues for a struggling Wisconsin offense.
If the running attack is not on for the Badgers, it causes serious issues in the passing game. Although the Miami passing defense ranks in the middle of the pack, yards-wise, the Hurricanes defensive front wreaks havoc on opposing quarterbacks.
The Canes ranked second in the nation with 43 sacks and had eleven different players recording two sacks. Hornibrook ranked tied for third in interceptions thrown with 15 this season, and has been prone to struggles against the better pass rushes in the Big Ten. If Miami is able to turn the Badgers over, expect a long game for Wisconsin.
Wisconsin can counter this pass rush with their impressive offensive line. The Badger’s have three offensive linemen on all big-ten teams including two first-team members: Guard Beau Benzschawel and tackle Michael Dieter.
For Wisconsin to be able to win this game, some sort of running attack must be established and the offensive line must be able to protect Hornibrook.
Alex Hornibrook, however, is the key to this game. Expect Miami to stack the box just as Ohio State did and make Hornibrook beat them.
Ohio State had a lot of success in doing this holding Hornibrook to 19 of 40 passing with 220 yards and two interceptions. If Hornibrook can just play game manager, not turn the ball over, and trust our top-ranked defense the Badgers will have a good shot to win this one.
The Badgers must also prevent big plays. Ohio State scored two touchdowns of 50 yards or more which is not including a 77 yard run by J.K. Dobbins that set up another touchdown.
If you take those three plays out of the game, Wisconsin outplayed Ohio State.
The difference was the Buckeyes speed on the edge. This is something Miami will look to take advantage of.
If the Badgers can control the trenches, limit big plays, and win the turnover battle they will win this game. But, whether they can do that remains to be seen.