Both the Wisconsin Badgers and the Miami Hurricanes felt the bitter disappointment of late-season losses that knocked them out of the College Football Playoff race, but a win in the Orange Bowl would be a nice consolation prize for either team.
It's fitting that the Hurricanes would find themselves in the game in the year when they have re-emerged as a championship contender. This is Miami's first Orange Bowl appearance since 2004, but it's the bowl the program has appeared in more than any other.
Wisconsin, on the other hand, will be making its first Orange Bowl appearance and its second bowl game against the Hurricanes. Wisconsin handed Miami a 20-9 loss in the Champs Sports Bowl in 2009.
It's a compelling matchup between two teams with similar profiles. Here's all the info you need to catch the game and a look at the early odds, according to OddsShark.
Date: December 30, 2017
Time: 8 p.m. ET
Odds: Wisconsin -5.5
How Miami Can Win
Break out the turnover chain.
The Hurricanes' formula for winning has been simple under Mark Richt: be balanced on offense (Miami is nearly 50-50 in run-pass ratio), put quarterback Malik Rosier in position to make plays (28 total touchdowns) and then turn teams over on defense (second in the country in turnovers forced).
When the Hurricanes are successful at those three things, they are a difficult bunch to beat.
They should find themselves in a position to force some turnovers against the Badgers too. Much like his Miami counterpart, Oklahoma signal-caller Alex Hornibrook has not ended the season on a high note.
In the Big Ten Championship Game against Ohio State, Hornibrook went 19-for-40 with 220 yards and two interceptions.
If Miami can force the sophomore into that kind of day, this is the Hurricanes' game to win.
By the same token, Rosier has to play better than he has in his past two games. In losses to Pitt and Clemson, he was just a combined 29-of-63 for 297 yards with two touchdowns to two interceptions.
If Miami can continue its trend of forcing teams into turnovers and capitalizing on offense with key plays from Rosier, the Hurricanes are going to be 2-0 in bowl games under Richt.
How Wisconsin Can Win
Some teams are just the same year in and year out. Wisconsin fits that mold, as this team has the same MO as just about every Badgers team for the past decade—maybe even millennium.
Wisconsin wants to bludgeon its opponents with the ground game, control the clock, shut down the run game on the defensive side of the ball and force the offense to be one-dimensional.
They are good at what they do too.
The rushing attack is led by Jonathan Taylor. His freshman season has produced historic numbers, as ESPN Stats & Info noted:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Jonathan Taylor (@BadgerFootball) with 149 rushing yards today. That gives him 1,806 on the season, 3rd-most by a freshman in FBS history He still has AT LEAST 2 more games remaining. https://t.co/FGj7PfrWAE2017-11-25 23:44:15
Taylor's running has helped Wisconsin be one of the best ball-control teams in the country. Opposing offenses are rarely on the field when playing the Badgers; they are third in the nation in time of possession. For comparison, the Hurricanes are 120th.
When Wisconsin is on the field, it is dominant defensively. The Badgers rank third in the nation in yards allowed per play, behind only Alabama and Washington.
If Taylor is having success and the Hurricanes can't block the Wisconsin defensive front, things will be looking good for the Badgers in this one.
Two things separate these teams from one another.
For Wisonsin, it's Taylor. The Hurricanes simply don't have a game-changing player of Taylor's magnitude.
Miami running back Travis Homer is nice. Wide receiver Braxton Berrios is capable of making plays, but Homer has only eclipsed 100 yards rushing three times this season. Berrios only has one 100-yard game.
Taylor only has three games this season in which he didn't rush for more than 125 years. That kind of consistent performance makes it hard to pick against the Badgers.
However, Miami made its name this year on winning games they were doubted in. Much of that was due to the defense's ability to create turnovers, and Wisconsin turns the ball over too many times to be picking them against that kind of defense.
The Badgers have the 17th-most turnovers in the country this season, and it is going to catch up with them again.
Prediction: Miami 27 Wisconsin 24