WHO: Miami (7-5) vs. Wisconsin (7-5)
WHAT: The 9th Pinstripe Bowl
WHEN: 5:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York City, New York
THE SKINNY: Last season, Wisconsin topped Miami in the Orange Bowl as the runners-up of the Big Ten and ACC championship games took the field in the New Years Six. This season we have a rematch that is hardly stacking up by comparison. Both Miami and Wisconsin are simply looking to end their disappointing seasons with wins in a bowl game being played in a baseball stadium, a situation no team starting the year ranked in the preseason top 10 envisions being the hope in August. Yet, here we are!
Both teams should fare well running the football as their offensive strength. The Badgers feature sophomore Jonathan Taylor, the nation’s rushing leader who is just 11 yards shy of the 2,000-yard mark for a second consecutive season and looking to capture the FBS rushing title in the process. Taylor has been the most dependable asset of the Wisconsin offense, although he has had an unfortunate knack for coughing up the football. Against Miami, a team that prides itself with the turnover Chain and with defensive coordinator Manny Diaz coaching his final game with the hurricanes before leaving to be the head coach at Temple, Taylor will have to avoid giving Miami’s defenses opportunities to pounce on a loose ball.
Miami’s running game isn’t quite where head coach Mark Richt is hoping to get it, just as he did with Georgia, but it should be viable with the duo of Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas taking the pressure off the passing game. Throwing the football has been a circus at times for Miami, and that may not get any better in this one as the Hurricanes look to do battle not just with Wisconsin, but also the weather. Miami in the cold sounds like a disaster just waiting to happen against a team that plays in the northern-most region of the Big Ten.
THE LINE: Miami -3.0
THE PREDICTION: Wisconsin 23, Miami 20
The No. 3 Miami Hurricanes (10-0, 7-0 ACC) overcame a disaster of a first half to keep their undefeated season going. On Saturday against Virginia (6-5, 3-4 ACC), the Hurricanes looked sluggish for one half and allowed Virginia to capitalize on big plays to a 28-14 lead, but Miami roared back with 30 unanswered points to improve on the best start since the last time Miami played for a national championship. Miami topped Virginia 44-28.
Miami players got to wear the famous turnover chain twice in the game, but the biggest turnover may have come with Jaguan Johnson‘s 30-yard interception for a game-tying score in the third quarter. The pick-six knotted the game at 28-28 in a wild third quarter, and Miami never looked back from that point on. Miami took the lead late in the third quarter on a 44-yard field goal by and Malik Rosier and Travis Homer added rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter as the Hurricanes cemented the win.
Rosier was picked off twice in the game, but he ended his day with 210 passing yards and three touchdowns to go with 38 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. His Virginia counterpart, Kurt Benkert, actually had a fantastic afternoon with 28-of-37 for 384 yards and four touchdowns. Until the lone interception thrown by Benkert, he looked more than capable to lead Virginia to an upset on the road. But Virginia needed more out of the running game and could not keep the big plays coming in the fourth quarter as Miami was taking control of the game.
Miami’s 10-0 start is the best start for the Hurricanes since playing for the BCS national championship in the 2002 season. This is also Miami’s first double-digit win season since 2003. That makes this Miami’s first 10-win season since joining the ACC. And they may not be done just yet.
Before making their first trip to the ACC Championship Game in two weeks, Miami will first make a business trip to Pittsburgh for the regular season finale against the Panthers. The Panthers were eliminated from postseason eligibility Saturday afternoon with a road loss to Virginia Tech, dropping Pitt to 4-7 on the year. Virginia will take on the Hokies next week in their regular-season finale on Friday night.
Even the best teams in college football have to gut out a close call along the way to a possible conference championship. For No. 8 Miami (6-0, 4-0 ACC), today may have been that day. A week after Syracuse (4-4, 2-2 ACC) knocked Clemson from the ranks of the unbeatens, the Orange made Miami work for a 27-19 victory in Florida on Saturday afternoon that was much tighter than even that final score may indicate. Struggling to deliver a knockout blow, Miami finally got the decisive blow with a 33-yard touchdown run by Travis Homer to push the Hurricanes closer to victory.
Miami quarterback Malik Rosier passed for 344 yards and two touchdowns. Ahmonn Richards and Christopher Herndon IV each came close to 100-yard games, and Travis Homer rushed for 95 yards with the decisive touchdown run late in the game.
Syracuse never backed down against Miami and still managed to make a game of it despite having four interceptions thrown by Orange quarterback Eric Dungey. It was a poor day through the air for Dungey and the Orange (Dungey was 13-of-41 for 137 yards and four interceptions), but Syracuse made up for it on the ground by working their up-tempo style. Dungey rushed 20 times for 100 yards and was beat up throughout the night. After the game, Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz made it a point to seek out Dungey on the sideline to seemingly offer his respect for an incredible effort.
For another week, Miami is undefeated and remains in good position to potentially reach the ACC championship game for the first time in school history.
With the win, Miami retains their spot atop the ACC Coastal Division with a 4-0 record in conference play. The Hurricanes and NC State are the only teams without a conference loss so far. Next up for the Hurricanes will be a road trip to Chapel Hill next week against a struggling North Carolina team that was getting blasted on the road by Virginia Tech. The way things are unfolding in the ACC, Miami’s conference championship hopes may come down to the game against Virginia Tech on November 4, at home. If Miami can stay undefeated after the Virginia Tech game, they’ll host Notre Dame on November 11 with the possibility of perhaps thinking a bit more than just an ACC title run.
As for Syracuse, Dungey and the Orange get a well-deserved week off before getting back on the field. When they return to the field, they will do so in the state of Florida once more for a game against Florida State. As it turns out, bowl hopes could be on the line for each after Florida State dropped another game earlier in the day to fall to 2-4.