How often is it that two teams meet in consecutive year’s in a bowl game? That seems to be the case for the Miami Hurricanes and the Wisconsin Badgers. This will be the team’s third matchup since the year 2009. Ironically, that is more times than the Hurricanes have faced ACC opponent Wake Forest.
Interestingly enough, the two teams have several similarities as the Hurricanes and the Badgers have both underwhelmed this season. After double-digit win totals in the 2017 season, both programs are at seven wins.
Both teams have been hit with injuries and departures since the beginning of the season. The Wisconsin passing game has struggled this season without receiver Quintez Cephus, who led the Badgers in receiving touchdowns. In addition to that, Alex Hornibrook has had his share of struggles this season. After battling injuries for most of the season, the quarterback will miss the Pinstripe Bowl after experiencing concussion-like symptoms.
Enter in Jack Coan, a New York native, and a former four-star prospect by Rivals. The sophomore will be making his fourth start and fifth game appearance. Although the bowl game will make Coan ineligible to redshirt this season, it’s potentially an audition for next year’s starting position.
Miami has had its share of quarterback issues this season. Senior Malik Rosier began the year as the starter. He would be replaced by redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry for a couple of games. Head coach Mark Richt decided to return to Rosier after Perry threw two first-quarter interceptions against Virginia. Perry would return as the starter almost a month later during the Hurricanes losing streak.
For the bowl game, the Hurricanes have not revealed who will start but it’s being rumored that Perry will be suspended, for at least part of the game. Miami also has had to deal with rumors of prized 2018 recruit Jarren Williams desiring to transfer. The rumors blindsided the Hurricanes during bowl practice but they were able to persuade Williams to stay.
Strength vs. Strength
Although both teams have struggled in many areas, there are some phases both are performing extremely well. For Wisconsin, it’s been the running attack led by sophomore running back Jonathan Taylor. The Doak Walker winner is 11 yards away from eclipsing 2000 this season. In only two seasons Taylor is also only 34 yards in having 4000 yards in his career.
The Wisconsin offensive line deserves just as much credit with four of the starting five lineman receiving all-Big Ten honors. Ironically, the strength of the Miami team is their defense. Senior defensive tackle Gerald Willis will miss the bowl game to start on rehab on injured hand that he’s been playing through. Look for freshman Nesta Silvera to get his first valuable experience against the Badgers. Junior linebacker Shaq Quarterman, a first-team All-ACC honoree, will be in charge of stopping Taylor. The Hurricanes led the nation in tackles for loss and winning the battle against Wisconsin’s offensive line will be a major factor.
Inexperience vs. Inexperience
As intriguing as the matchup between the Badgers rushing attack and the Hurricanes defense looks to be, the game may be won on the opposite end. The battle between Miami’s offense and the Badgers defense will be a battle of who breaks the other. Wisconsin has struggled defensively giving up points, where Miami’s offense has struggled to put up points.
Interestingly enough, they both have similar reasons why. Both teams are playing inexperienced players as the Badgers have had to replace seven starters from last season. The Hurricanes offense has looked stagnant for much of the year struggling to replace explosive receivers, Ahmon Richards and Jeff Thomas. For the Hurricanes, look for freshman tight end Brevin Jordan to be used in space against the Badgers linebackers in space.