No. 6 Wisconsin Too Much For No. 10 Miami

The Badgers Were Able To Capitalize On The Hurricanes’ Miscues In The Orange Bowl: The Takeaway

PHOTO: ORANGE BOWL

Miami Gardens, FL — Miami (10-3, 7-1 ACC) entered Saturday’s matchup looking for respect. Wisconsin (13-1, 12-0 Big Ten) came into the Orange Bowl seeking their first 13-win season. The Badgers accomplished their goal, as Wisconsin took care of Miami an unlikely shootout, 34-24.

“Obviously very disappointing loss,” Miami head coach Mark Richt said. “You know, I take as much responsibility as anybody. Actually more because I’m in charge of everything. I didn’t coach good enough, and we will get better, I can promise you now.”

Wisconsin dominated time of possession, holding the ball for 39:52. The Badgers struggled early to run the ball effectively, as Wisconsin found themselves in a 14-3 hole in the first quarter.

It allowed the Badgers to let quarterback Alex Hornibrook off his leash and throw it around. And did he ever, Hornibrook threw four touchdowns as Miami had no answer for the sophomore quarterback.

PHOTO: ORANGE BOWL

“They were playing a lot of man coverage, and those guys were winning their matchups, so it wasn’t too hard for me,” Hornibrook said. “I guess we got lucky, and I didn’t throw any picks.”

Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz switched to a zone in the fourth quarter, trying to combat Hornibrook; that didn’t work.

The Hurricanes played shorted handed without their top receiver (Ahmmon Richards), top tight-end (Chris Herndon), and the best running back in the ACC (Mark Walton).

Miami quarterback Malik Rosier was inconsistent as he’s been all year, especially over the past three games including the Orange Bowl. Rosier has ended the season completing 45 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and five interceptions.

Three of Rosier’s interceptions came in the Orange Bowl.

“They did a really good job making me throw balls into tight coverage,” Rosier said.

A heated exchange between Richt and officials earned the Miami an unsportsmanlike conduct flag, leading to a Wisconsin touchdown late in the first half. Richt lost his cool after he thought Wisconsin got away with holding, and the ire erupted into a physical confrontation as Richt grabbed the arm of the head linesman.

Hurricanes lone first-team All-ACC player, kicker Michael Badgley had a rough night. He missed two field goals, including a 24-yard field goal that would have cut the lead to seven with 4:34 left in the game.

What’s Next for Wisconsin

Hornibrook can use this performance to springboard into the offseason. The Badgers will win the Big Ten next year if Hornibrook can play like that, along with Jonathan Taylor’s production.

Wisconsin will lose a lot on defense due to graduation; the Badgers played ten seniors on defense. They’ll have to reload and rely on offense next year instead of defense.

The Badgers hosts Western Kentucky in week one 2018. Their first test will be Scott Frost’s new look Nebraska Cornhuskers. Then several huge matchups at Michigan and Penn State.

What’s Next for Miami

PHOTO: MIAMI HURRICANES

Rosier broke Miami’s single-season touchdown record with his lone touchdown in the Orange Bowl. But he did not cement his case for being the starter next season. Richt will have a quarterback competition with Rosier, redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry, and incoming freshman Jarren Williams. Whoever gives the Canes the best chance to win a National Championship will get the nod.

The Hurricanes are loaded with young talent on both sides of the ball. To go along with a top-five recruiting class.

The Turnover Chain will be back for a second season.

Miami will open up next season with LSU at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. The start of something new, as the Hurricanes scheduled major Power-Five teams over the next five years, Florida (2019), Michigan State (2020, 2021), and Alabama (2021).

 

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