Wisconsin and Miami followed much of the same dreary path that started in the warmth of the Orange Bowl and ends with a frigid thud at Yankee Stadium.
The Badgers and Hurricanes were AP Top 25 teams when they played last season in the Orange Bowl, a 34-24 victory for No. 6 Wisconsin in a game that seemed to serve as a preview for a better 2018 ahead for both programs.
The similarities kept rolling headed into a dud of a rematch in the Pinstripe Bowl on Thursday: Miami and Wisconsin each opened the season inside the top 10 — the Badgers even received a first-place vote — then both of their seasons unraveled as they became two of the biggest busts in college football.
The Hurricanes (7-5) lost their season opener and dropped four straight in October-November to plummet from contention in the ACC. The Badgers (7-5) never played like national championship contenders and their loss total topped the combined total (4) of 2016 and 2017.
The disappointing duo trudge into one of the coldest bowl games each season with more bad news: uncertainty at QB. The Hurricanes could play without N’Kosi Perry in the wake of a sexually explicit video he posted on Snapchat. The video appeared to have been filmed in September but recently resurfaced and could cost Perry (1,089 yards passing, 13 touchdowns) a Pinstripe start. Malik Rosier, who started six games this season before he was replaced by Perry, likely will get the start. Jarren Williams could get some snaps for the Hurricanes.
Miami coach Mark Richt had not announced a starter as of Wednesday.
“Whoever’s at the helm at quarterback, I feel like we can be a productive offensive going into the bowl game,” running back DeeJay Dallas said. “I feel like we’re in a good spot right now. I feel like the facade of chaos is playing a big impact on the fans and the media. But it’s just a facade. I feel like we’re in a good space right now and we’re poised to take on the Badgers.”
The Badgers also have issues with Alex Hornibrook sidelined by a recurrence of concussion symptoms. Hornibrook, a third-year starter, threw four touchdown passes in the Orange Bowl last season. He missed the 31-17 loss at Northwestern on Oct. 27 with a head injury. He returned to start the following week against Rutgers but sat out the second half after his head hit the turf during a sack. Hornibrook then missed the next two games before returning to start the regular-season finale against Minnesota.
Wisconsin will start Jack Coan and his fifth appearance this season means he will burn his eligibility to take a redshirt year.
“Every time that he’s played, the game’s been in the balance,” coach Paul Chryst said. “We didn’t go into the season saying, we want to redshirt you. We went into the season saying, we want your snaps to be meaningful.”
Here are a few more things to watch in the Pinstripe Bowl:
Manny Diaz will serve as Miami’s defensive coordinator for one final game before he leaves to be the new head coach at Temple. Diaz showed a loyalty to the program that few departing coaches share while remaining fully engaged in his new job: The Owls received 17 commitments during the early signing period. Diaz led a defense that allowed an average of just 268.2 yards per game, the second-fewest nationally.
“The first time Wisconsin calls an inside run, I don’t think anybody playing defense for Miami will be thinking about me,” Diaz said.
The kickoff temperature during last year’s Pinstripe Bowl was 23 degrees with a wind chill that made it feel like 12 degrees. That’s about the norm for late December at Yankee Stadium.
“I feel like weather is a mental factor,” Dallas said. “I’m not too worried about the cold. You’ve just got to keep your hands warm and run the ball.”
Jonathan Taylor ran for 130 yards on 26 carries for the Badgers in the Orange Bowl. Taylor finished the year with an FBS freshman-record 1,977 yards.
He followed with a fantastic sophomore season and had 1,989 yards rushing (165.8 yards per game) and had four 200-yard games.
Source: The Associated Press