Both teams in the Pinstripe Bowl had vastly underperforming seasons and that always brings the question of how much the players care to be playing in New York. But considering Miami and Wisconsin are both in the same situation and big-name schools, that may not matter. The Hurricanes were early -3.5 point favorites with an over/under of 48 (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) for the Game at Yankee Stadium.
This is the perfect location for these two teams because it could be an ugly Game. Miami (5-7 ATS) has a few more positives with a future at quarterback and a two-Game winning streak being the major notes. The Hurricanes were good early in the season, but then the losing started before beating Virginia Tech and Pitt in the final two Games.
Things didn’t go the same for Wisconsin (3-9 ATS), who was wretched in its final regular season Game, losing 37-15 at home against Minnesota. While the Badgers got a win at Iowa, this was still a team that lost to the best teams in the Conference and lost by double digits three different times. These teams met in last year’s Orange Bowl with Wisconsin controlling things mostly because Miami quarterback Malik Rosier couldn’t do anything and threw three picks.
That’s where freshman N’Kosi Perry (13 TDs, 5 INTs) comes in even though his numbers leave a lot to be desired as he completed 51.6% of his passes and had just two touchdowns and two interceptions in his final five appearances. Even worse is that he went 6-for-24 for 52 yards in the finale against Pitt. The good news is that Wisconsin’s defense hasn’t been good against the run, allowing 4.4 yards per carry and 157.9 yards per Game. Perry provides mobility, but both Travis Homer (969 yards) and DeeJay Dallas (609 yards) averaged at least 5.8 yards per carry and could be all that’s needed to win this Game. The Badgers just got carved up by Minnesota and it’ll be hard to trust them.
On the other side, Miami’s defense has been surprisingly good, allowing just 18.2 points per Game. Some of that has to do with the weak ACC Coastal and that it didn’t play an elite offense all season, but it’s hard to ignore the numbers as Miami allowed just 3.3 yards per carry, which could be an issue for the Badgers.
The only positive for this offense has been Jonathan Taylor, who was arguably the best running back in the country with 1,989 yards and 15 touchdowns on 7.1 yards per carry. No matter how the Game went, he often torched the opponent, reaching 100 yards in all but the Northwestern contest. The issue has been quarterback Alex Hornibrook, who appeared to take a step back from last year’s positives and had only 13 touchdowns with 11 picks. Unless Hornibrook turns into an elite quarterback in the month between Games, there’s little reason to think this offense will be different and that’s why it will be hard to bet on Wisconsin against a top rush defense.
That said, the Badgers already played an even better Iowa rush defense and won that Game 28-17 on the road with the help of a positive Hornibrook performance. A lot of numbers point to Miami, but if Wisconsin brings that Iowa performance, there’s always the chance for an upset.
The Hurricanes are 1-5 ATS in their last six against the Big Ten and 1-8 ATS In their last nine at a neutral site. The Badgers are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 on grass, but 3-8 ATS in their last 11 at a neutral site.
Our Pick – One of the wild cards when handicapping Bowl Games, is motivation, or lack thereof. The more prominent team of these two over the last decade has been Wisconsin. The Badgers played in 3 straight Rose Bowls between 2011 and 2013 and haven’t appeared in a Bowl Game this early in December since 2008.
The Badgers reward for a sub par season? I trip to the Bronx and a likely Game time temp of 35 degrees. Fun fun.
Not only that, but there’s a good chance they may be a little over confident as they beat these very same Hurricanes just one year ago in the Orange Bowl.
Our numbers point towards Miami being the right side in this one and the motivational factors may very well also favor the Hurricanes. Miami -3.5