Wisconsin vs Miami: Pinstripe Bowl preview, prediction.
TEAMS: Wisconsin Badgers (7-5) vs. Miami Hurricanes (7-5).
WHERE: Yankee Stadium.
TIME: 4:15 p.m. Thursday.
TV: ESPN with Bob Wischusen (play-by-play), Mike Golic Jr. and Dan Orlovsky (analysis) and Paul Carcaterra (sideline).
RADIO: AM-920 in Milwaukee and a state network with Matt Lepay (play-by-play) and Mike Lucas (analysis).
LINE: Miami by 3.
SERIES: UW leads, 3-2, with the last two victories coming in bowl games (20-14 in Champs Bowl in 2009; 34-24 in Orange Bowl in 2017).
COACHES: Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst (41-12, fourth season; 60-31, seventh season overall); vs. Miami’s Mark Richt (26-12, third season; 171-63, 18th season overall).
LIVE COVERAGE: Follow our live coverage from the press box
SCOUTING REPORT: Miami at a glance
STATS, ROSTERS: Wisconsin | Miami
LIVE SCOREBOARD: NCAA football schedule, box scores
Four things to watch
IS COAN READY TO MAKE PLAYS? UW quarterback Jack Coan struggled to make game-winning plays in his first two starts – at Northwestern and at Penn State – before rebounding with an above-average performance at Purdue, which included two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to force overtime. He is set to face a Miami team that closed the regular season No. 1 in the nation against the pass (140.8 ypg), No. 2 in the nation in total defense (268.3 ypg) and 25th against the run (127.5 ypg). Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz generally mixes his fronts and uses a lot of movement in the front seven to disrupt blocking schemes and confuse quarterbacks.
“It is a lot to absorb,” UW offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph said of Miami’s defense. “This is a really complicated defense. They do a really good of mixing things and creating issues.
“We’ll really work hard to be smart and efficient with what we put together for him.
“You don’t want to put anything on him that takes away from the confidence that he has. So you still want to be smart. You want to put a package together that he is really confident in.”
MIAMI MUST SLOW TAYLOR: UW sophomore tailback Jonathan Taylor is averaging 7.1 yards per carry, has rushed for at least 100 yards in 11 of 12 games this season and closed the regular season leading the nation in rushing (165.8 yards per game). Miami has limited foes to 3.3 yards per carry, 4.1 if you take away yards lost on sacks. Only three players have rushed for at least 100 yards against the Hurricanes this season. For all the talk about Coan taking over for Alex Hornibrook (concussion-related symptoms), UW has little chance to win if the Hurricanes shut down Taylor.
“It is going to be very important to establish the run game,” Taylor said, “in order to make it easier for the pass game and make it easier on the quarterback and the receivers.”
UW MUST STUFF THE RUN: The strength of Miami’s offense is its ground game, led by tailbacks Travis Homer (6.3-yard average, 969 yards and four touchdowns) and DeeJay Dallas (5.8-609-6). Miami’s quarterbacks – starter Malik Rosier and backup N’Kosi Perry – have been inconsistent and have combined for a 52.4 percent completion rate, with 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Perry hit just 6 of 24 attempts for 52 yards – in ideal conditions – in the regular-season finale against Pittsburgh.
UW has struggled to stop the run for most of the season, including the regular-season finale against Minnesota when the Gophers rushed 47 times for 201 yards and three touchdowns and held the ball for 35 minutes 6 seconds.
Can UW’s defense, which will be without inside linebacker Ryan Connelly (undisclosed surgery), make the Hurricanes have to rely on their quarterbacks to win?
MOTIVATION COULD BE CRITICAL: Manny Diaz, preparing for his final game as Miami’s defensive coordinator before heading to Temple, hasn’t forgotten how his defense was shredded for 400 yards and 34 points in a 10-point loss to UW last season.
“Bowl games are always motivation,” he said. “They are about which team is more excited to play. I know for us, this gives us a little edge.”
UW linebacker T.J. Edwards acknowledged he and his teammates have to be prepared for that edge.
“We got their number last year so I know they are going to want to come out and play their best game,” he said. “Knowing we have to match that intensity and come out and play our very best football game to beat this team is exciting.”
Senior linebacker T.J. Edwards has been Mr. Consistent during his time at UW.
Edwards redshirted in 2014 and posted tackle totals of 84, 89 and 81 in his first three seasons.
He enters the Pinstripe Bowl with 104 tackles, bringing his total at UW to 358. That is the No. 1 mark among active Big Ten players.
If Edwards records five tackles against Miami he will move into the top 10 all-time at UW. He would pass Brendan Lynch, who recorded 362 stops from 1987-’90.
Did you know?
UW’s Jonathan Taylor has rushed for a combined 3,766 yards in his first two seasons – 1,977 in 14 games last season and 1,989 in 12 games this season.
He needs 34 yards to become the sixth player in UW history to rush for 4,000 yards.
The five UW players to hit the 4,000-yard mark are Ron Dayne with 7,125 yards (1996-’99), Montee Ball with 5,140 yards (2009-’12), Melvin Gordon with 4,915 yards (2011-’14), Anthony Davis with 4,676 yards (2001-’04) and James White with 4,015 yards (2010-’13).
Jeff Potrykus’ prediction
UW’s quarterback play has been uneven in 2018, just one of the reasons the offense hasn’t progressed as the staff hoped. But Miami’s quarterback play has been just as inconsistent. The team that establishes the ground game will prevail. UW has Jonathan Taylor; Miami lost its best defensive tackle to injury. UW will escape, 20-17.