The theme of the Orange Bowl is redemption for both the Miami Hurricanes and the Wisconsin Badgers. Miami and Wisconsin are coming off of disappointing conference championship losses, after having very strong seasons. Both teams were considered in contention for one of the four playoff spots if they won their respective conference championships. Unfortunately, that was not the case as Miami fell to Clemson and Wisconsin fell to Ohio State.
Two hungry teams looking for redemption should lead to a competitive, hard fought game. Both of these teams play aggressive defense and love to get after the football. Of course, the U loves to break out the Turnover Chain every time they force a turnover. Don’t let the turnover chain overshadow the best defense in the country!
Let’s take a look at the offense vs. defense and who has the advantage.
Miami’s Defense vs. Wisconsin Offense:
Miami’s defensive line, led by junior defensive tackle RJ McIntosh and senior defensive end Chad Thomas, is the strength of the Miami defense. They led all Division 1 teams in sacks per game with 3.7. Miami has averaged 4.0 sacks per game while playing at home (technically this is a home game for them). Miami boasts a fast defense, which should give Wisconsin some trouble. Wisconsin did give up three sacks to Ohio State in the Big 10 Conference Championship game.
Miami forced 1.5 interceptions per game, which ranks ninth in the country. Possibly the most important stat, they recorded 2.5 forced turnovers per game, which ranks third in the nation. Wisconsin has only given up 1.6 sacks per game. Wisconsin has one of the best offensive lines in football, but they did give up 4 sacks against Ohio State in the Big Ten conference championship game.
Overall, Miami’s defense ranked 39th in yards allowed per game while only allowing 20.5 points per game. Wisconsin offense averaged 33.8 points per game, but was only able to score 21 points against a fast Ohio State offense.
Miami Offense vs. Wisconsin Defense:
Miami’s offense, led by redshirt junior Malik Rosier, is the 69th ranked offense in Division I. Miami picked up 392.4 yards per game of offense. They are a Jekyll and Hyde style of offense. On the road, the Hurricanes gained 321.4 yards per game but averaged 451.5 yards per game at home. Wisconsin defense allowed 284.5 yards per game on the road, presenting Miami a difficult challenge.
Miami only scored 28.5 points per game, tough matchup against a defense that only allowed 13.2 points per game. Miami struggled on third down, picking up first downs on 28.8% of third downs. Wisconsin opponents converted third downs only 29.61% of the time.
Wisconsin’s defense is almost as good at getting to the quarterback as Miami is. Wisconsin averaged three sacks per game this season, 10th-best in the nation. On the road, Wisconsin averaged 2.3 sacks per contest. Miami gave up 2.4 sacks per game, 1.7 sacks per game at home. Wisconsin should see some success with their aggressive blitz packages, getting after Rosier.
Wisconsin Red Zone vs. Miami Red Zone:
Neither team has a powerhouse offense and will rely on ball control to get down field. The red zone may be a make or break point for both teams.
Miami allowed opponents to convert on 85.29% of their red zone attempts while Wisconsin converted 84.21% of the time. The Hurricanes should be able to hold Wisconsin to field-goal tries regularly.
Possibly the best matchup to watch on Saturday is the Miami red zone offense against the Wisconsin red zone defense. Miami converted 94.12% of their red zone tries this season while Wisconsin only allowed opponents to score 72.73% of the time. Wisconsin is tough to score against in the red zone while Miami is tough to stop in the red zone.
This matchup may come down to how good each team performs in the red zone on both sides of the ball. The scoring defenses will be the focal point of the matchup.
After watching three games of each team, I see two teams that are identified by their aggressive, physical defenses. Neither team boasts an elite offense but their focal point is the run game and short passing game.
Wisconsin’s offensive line vs. Miami’s defensive line should be an entertaining matchup of the game. On the other side, Wisconsin looks to get after a Miami offensive line that has struggled in recent games.
Miami’s fast, aggressive secondary creates issues for Wisconsin’s wide receivers. Miami’s fast linebackers may create issues for Wisconsin’s tight ends to get open.
Wisconsin’s offensive line should create plenty of space for their run game against Miami’s front seven.
I don’t expect this to be a high-scoring game, since neither team has given a lot of points per game. Look for this game to be defensive battle.
Prediction: Miami 23 Wisconsin 20