It turns out last year’s Orange Bowl triumph was just the beginning for Wisconsin. And Miami too.
The Badgers ran over, around, and very much through a lackluster Hurricanes squad 35-3 on Thursday night in the Pinstripe Bowl to take a bit of momentum into the long offseason and throw a huge number of questions the way of their familiar postseason opponent.
To nobody’s surprise, Doak Walker Award winner Jonathan Taylor was superb. Even against a pretty stellar run defense and stout front-seven, the sophomore ran for 205 yards and a touchdown as the focal point for the Wisconsin offense. The tailback will be the first to give credit to his offensive line and the performance was certainly a masterclass in leaning on an opposing defensive line and wearing them out as the game went on.
Make no mistake, the score could have been a lot worse as the Badgers dominated from start to finish and left more than a few scoring opportunities on the field. Jack Coan didn’t need to do too much at quarterback filling in for Alex Hornibrook and wound up throwing just 11 passes, completing six for 73 yards and a touchdown (running for another too) while also tossing a pick. Senior Taiwain Deal found the end zone late as well.
Speaking of interceptions, while this was no Cheez-It Bowl in terms of quarterback play, it wasn’t too far off for the Canes. Senior Malik Rosier started and completed eight passes — five to his own team and three to the other one (he also had a hand in on a fumbled handoff). Eventually he was replaced by N'Kosi Perry, who didn’t start after posting a lewd video on social media but came in to throw five passes for two yards and an interception.
Rosier did run for 90 yards (including a 62 yard scamper) but it was otherwise more of the same rough going on the offensive side of the ball for Miami.
That will lead to increasing scrutiny for head coach Mark Richt as his team enters a crucial offseason. The program began the year in the top 15 of the polls with plenty of high expectations to contend with Clemson in the ACC but will wind up 7-6 on the season and facing questions about personnel, scheme and coaching staff going forward.
While 2018 was also a bit disappointing for Wisconsin after entering with College Football Playoff hopes, at least they can take solace in ending things on the right note with the program’s fifth straight bowl win. The Badgers, like they did last year, made this one look pretty easy in the process too.