Miami (9-3) vs. Wisconsin (9-3)
Dec. 29, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Miami take by ACC blogger Heather Dinich: The Canes get to stay in their home state, which they wanted, and they’ll face a Wisconsin team that boasts the Big Ten’s offensive player of the year in John Clay, who finished the season with 1,416 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Clay’s 172 yards and three touchdowns in the Badgers’ 51-10 romp of Hawaii in the regular-season finale helped push Wisconsin back into the national rankings this week, but Miami is at No. 17 in the BCS standings and wrapping up its best season since 2005. Clay is a major reason the Badgers have the No. 15 rushing offense in the country and the No. 1 unit in the Big Ten, but Wisconsin is a more one-dimensional team than Miami.
Miami’s defense will be tested in this game, but so will Wisconsin’s, as both teams will present different styles of offense. The Canes, led by quarterback Jacory Harris, have relied more heavily on their passing game, but can turn to several running backs to mix it up. The Badgers have the No. 8 rushing defense in the country, but haven’t been spectacular against the pass. The Canes had ample time to rest and heal and enter the postseason off of back-to-back wins. It’s the second bowl appearance in the third season under Randy Shannon.
The Hurricanes are 2-1 all-time against the Badgers, with the last meeting coming in 1989 when UM defeated Wisconsin, 51-3, in Madison.
Wisconsin take by Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg: The Badgers are heading to Orlando for the second consecutive season, but there's certainly a different feeling within the program this time around.
Wisconsin was one of the nation's biggest disappointments last year, tumbling from the top 10 to the middle of the Big Ten. The season ended things with a very lousy showing against Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl.
This time, head coach Bret Bielema leads a nationally-ranked team that has exceeded most expectations into a Dec. 29 matchup against Miami. The Badgers boast a balanced offense and an aggressive defense led by ends O'Brien Schofield and J.J. Watt, who have combined for 36 tackles for loss, the highest total among any FBS tandem. Defensive coordinator Dave Doeren needs both Schofield and Watt to get after Miami quarterback Jacory Harris, an early season Heisman Trophy contender who has thrown multiple touchdown passes in nine games.
The bowl could be a classic speed vs. power matchup, as Wisconsin tries to neutralize Miami's speed with its downhill rushing attack. Sophomore running back John Clay, the Big Ten's Offensive Player of the Year, ranks 14th nationally in rushing and has eclipsed 100 rush yards in each of his last five games.
Wisconsin is 1-2 all-time against Miami, last facing the Canes in 1989. The Badgers are 0-1 in the Champs Sports Bowl but 2-1 in Orlando bowl games.