Hurricanes, Badgers set to face off in postseason for second straight year, this time in Yankee Stadium
A year after colliding in the Orange Bowl, Wisconsin and Miami will meet once more. This year’s rematch will be set in a much different environment, shifting from Miami’s home turf to a baseball stadium in the Bronx. After two disappointing seasons for the Badgers and Hurricanes, the chance to end the year on a winning note will be welcomed by each as they participate in this year’s Pinstripe Bowl. For teams that started the year ranked in the preseason top 10 of the major polls, ending the year on a baseball stadium is a far cry from where they had hoped to be this time of year.
The Pinstripe Bowl is being played for the ninth time and the fifth time since aligning with the ACC and Big Ten. The Big Ten is 3-1 vs. the ACC in the Pinstripe Bowl with wins by Penn State in 2014, Northwestern in '16 and Iowa in '17. The ACC's lone win came courtesy of Duke in 2015. This is the first appearance in the Pinstripe Bowl for both Wisconsin and Miami, so the experience of playing on a baseball stadium will be something new for each.
Wisconsin has won five consecutive bowl games, with Paul Chryst a clean 4-0 since being named the head coach of the Badgers. Miami is just 1-4 in bowl games the last five seasons under three different head coaches.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Miami (7-5) vs. Wisconsin (7-5)
Kickoff: Thursday, Dec. 27 at 5:15 p.m. ET
Where: Yankee Stadium (Bronx, N.Y.)
Spread: Miami -3.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Jonathan Taylor eyes 2,000 rushing yards
The Doak Walker Award winner, Wisconsin's super sophomore is closing in on a 2,000-yard season going into the bowl game. Needing just 11 yards, Taylor will likely have that all taken care of early on in the game, and then he can look towards setting his final, FBS-leading tally.
Taylor has been held to fewer than 100 yards in a game just once this season, at Northwestern. Taylor has shown the ability to be a bit of a workhorse for the Badgers when needed as he’ll grind out short yardage but he also is a threat to rip off a long run almost at any time.
Miami allowed Taylor to rush for 130 yards on 26 carries last season, with the longest run of the night being a gain of 19 yards. Miami also held Taylor out of the end zone, although the Badgers made up for Miami’s focus on the run by scoring through the air instead.
2. Can Miami handle the cold weather?
Any time a team from Florida travels north to brace for the elements of the north, especially in December, it is fair to question how well they will handle it. That may especially be true in this game as Miami’s opponent is experienced with the cold weather on a game day.
Miami’s slide at the end of the season started in a cold weather situation with a regular-season finale at Pittsburgh, but cold weather wasn’t a factor much that day with the temperature reaching a high of 52 degrees. Historically though, Miami has had their struggles in weather under 50 degrees. Unless there is a surprising swing in the weather patterns in the New York area, Miami will have to overcome playing in the cold weather if they are going to beat the Badgers.
Cold weather could become a factor for the quarterbacks, which is where Wisconsin may feel they are in a better position. Miami’s N’Kosi Perry has had his share of highs and lows this season and will be asked to make some plays happen for the Hurricanes. As long as he can not let the weather bother him, then Miami will like its chances.
3. Final game for Manny Diaz as defensive coordinator
Diaz will coach his final game with the Hurricanes. The defensive coordinator is about to leave Miami behind to be the head coach of the Temple Owls, so he will hope to leave on a good note.
It may be fitting Diaz will get a second crack at Wisconsin in his final game with the Hurricanes. Wisconsin rolled up 400 yards of offense against Miami in last year’s Orange Bowl, with quarterback Alex Hornibrook throwing four touchdown passes in a bit of a surprising development.
Miami’s defense has been a better unit this season compared to a year ago too, so the Hurricanes will be up to the task of taking on the Badgers. They may even have a chip on their shoulder as they look to send Diaz out a winner. The nation’s second-ranked defense held opponents to 268.3 yards per game and the turnover chain, an idea of Diaz’s, has come out 24 times this season. The turnover chain made just one appearance against Wisconsin a year ago, but the Badgers have consistently struggled to protect the football this season. With 23 giveaways already this season, Miami’s defense will look to feast on potential turnovers in this one.
Don’t count on Wisconsin catching Miami off guard through the air this year. The Badgers have struggled to throw the football all season long and don't expect them to be able to simply flip a switch for one game, especially against a Miami defense that has held opponents to just 140.8 passing yards per game, the lowest average allowed by an ACC team over the past decade. The Badgers will get their yards on the ground with Jonathan Taylor playing behind that beefy offensive line, but Miami can counter with Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas. But in the end, Wisconsin handles the elements better than Miami and avoids going too cold down the stretch for a second straight bowl victory over the Hurricanes.
Prediction: Wisconsin 23, Miami 20
— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. McGuire also contributes to College Football Talk and The Comeback as well as hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB and Like him on Facebook.