It’s not on New Year’s night, or even New Year’s Eve, but still there’s plenty of intrigue in Saturday night’s Orange Bowl between the Canes and the Wisconsin Badgers.
Here’s three things we are looking for tonight:
Can the Hurricanes bounce back after a month?
When last we saw them, Miami dropped back to back games. A terrible 24-14 loss at four win Pitt on the Friday after Thanksgiving cost them an unbeaten regular season. Then, #1 Clemson pummeled them 38-3 in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte.
Now, coach Mark Richt’s team has time to get healthier, as they were playing that Clemson game without their starting running back, two star receivers and tight end. And they need to get their swagger back in a game that will be played in their home stadium. While Wisconsin will have a large red contingent in Miami, it will be loud and electric, like it was for Miami’s impressive wins over Virginia Tech and Notre Dame in November. It should bolster the Hurricanes.
Takeaways will likely tell the story
Wisconsin lefty QB Alex Hornibrook threw an FBS leading 15 interceptions on the season, and he’s going against one of the premier takeaway defenses in college football. The “turnover chain” has been out early and often this season as the Canes took it away 30 times in their 12 games. Look for coach Paul Chryst’s Badgers to run it a bunch with 1,800 yard rusher Jonathan Taylor to take the pressure off Hornibrook.
If Miami cannot create the short field and momentum swings, then it’s likely going to be a long night with the Wisconsin massive offensive line pounding on them as the game goes on.
Who will make plays for Miami on offense?
We know that freshman QB Malik Rosier struggled in this final two losses throwing under 50% completion percentage with only two TDs and two INTs in the Pitt and Clemson games, he must bounce back.
Again, he doesn’t have their top receivers in Ahmmon Richards and Christopher Herndon who both are out with knee injuries. So fiesty little play-maker Braxton Berrios (photo above) will be counted on heavily by Rosier, as will running back Travis Homer must get some offense going on the ground.
If Miami gets some offense, some turnovers, and the crowd behind them, they should prevail.
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