Game Preview: The 2018 Pinstripe Bowl vs. Wisconsin

Paul Austria
7 min read
Following the announcement of who would be participating in the Pinstripe Bowl, there’s a good chance that no matter what team you’re rooting for, you probably had a reaction similar alike to this: wait, again?

On December 27th, Yankee Stadium will be the site of familiar foes facing off once again with Mark Richt and the University of Miami (FL) Hurricanes taking on Paul Chryst’s Wisconsin Badgers. Last year, the Badgers defeated the Canes 34-24 in the Orange Bowl, which was essentially a home game for Miami. Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor had 130 yards on the ground on five yards/carry while Miami QB Malik Rosier’s three interceptions held back any comeback efforts the Canes may have had in store. This time around, the conditions are a complete opposite from Miami’s heat and humidity as the temperature is expected be around the high 30s-low 40s.

Both teams actually share a lot in common up to this point in the season Both teams began the season ranked in the top 10 before falling to a record of 7-5 and both teams also experienced variable quarterback situations.

Miami will most likely be without freshman QB N’Kosi Perry as he revealed through a teammate’s Instagram Live video that he has been suspended, likely due to a suggestive video that he previously posted in September, though the video had been circulating among students in recent weeks.

As a result, Rosier will get the start. Perry traveled with the team but he did not receive any reps in bowl practices. It has basically been a quarterback shuffle that has come full circle as they began the season with the senior Rosier before coach Richt making the switch to redshirt-freshman N’Kosi Perry, then back to Rosier, then back to Perry again, and now back to Rosier once more.

Perry shined in Miami’s win over Florida State, throwing four touchdowns but in the five following starts, he’s had only two. Malik Rosier has thrown for six touchdowns versus five interceptions and will be making his seventh start of the season.

On Wisconsin’s end, junior QB Alex Hornibrook has continued to suffer from concussion-related symptoms going into this week so sophomore Jack Coan will star behind center on Thursday. The decision in starting Coan results in burning his intended redshirt status as this will be his fifth appearance (fourth start) this season. Hornibrook had been the primary starter for Wisconsin for the last three years, throwing for 13 touchdowns and 11 interceptions this season. Despite losing his redshirt, Coan isn’t the least bit disappointed and believes this game is more important than an extra year of eligibility.

“Obviously I thought about [the redshirt] once they told me I was going to be starting,” Coan told the Wisconsin State Journal. “Honestly, I’m thankful I’m starting this game. I think it’s important for the senior class to go out on top. They’ve been through a lot and they’ve done a lot for this program, and anything I can do to help them, I’m going to do, so just going to give everyone my all.”

The 2017 Orange Bowl was the end of a remarkable freshman campaign for Taylor and he did not skip a beat, letting that success pour into this season. In 2018, no player has ran for more yards than the All-American has, following up a 1,977-yard season with 1,989 this season to go along with 15 touchdowns while playing in two less games. As a result, he was awarded the Doak Walker award, given to the top running back in the nation.

“One thing I did see come out in him [this year] is kind of a little gear sometimes where he goes ‘I’m going,’” Wisconsin offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph told the Wisconsin State Journal. “I think now he does that kind of within the framework of what we’re trying to do. But he knows when he puts his foot in the ground, I don’t think anybody’s going to stop him from going where he wants to go.”

Taylor has also benefited from running behind one of the top offensive lines in the country and he’s served as the focal point of the Wisconsin offense.

Former Badger Jim Leonhard serves as the defensive coordinator for Wisconsin, with his defense allowing 358.8 yards/game, good enough for 43rd in the nation. They’ve been led mostly by linebackers T.J. Edwards and Ryan Connelly, the only two members of the team who have reached double-digits in tackles for loss this season.

The Canes have had to deal with a myriad of complications on offense this season on top of quarterback play. Coaches have shuffled the offensive line numerous times, which has led to subpar offensive play at times no matter who was under center.

In what also seemed to be the deepest position on the roster, Miami will close the season without their top two wide receivers. Ahmmon Richards’ football career is presumably over after it was announced in October that he had suffered a neck injury and it was unclear when he suffered the injury, with the university deciding to remain mum on the subject.

Jeff Thomas was Miami’s leading receiver earlier this season with 563 yards before being dismissed from the program in November. While depth was already thin at tight end going into the season, somehow both of Miami’s freshman starting tight ends, Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory, suffered injuries as well.

Jordan, who earned All-ACC Second Team honors this season, returned to practice earlier this month and all signs point to him suiting up this Thursday. The running game has been very stead as junior Travis Homer is only 31 yards from hitting the 1,000-mark for the first time in his career.

Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz will be donning the orange and green polo for the last time in the Pinstripe Bowl after accepting a job as the new head coach at Temple. It is no secret that Diaz has built a very tough and stifling Miami defensive unit this season that included several players earning All-ACC honors on top of DT Gerald Willis earning All-American honors. Despite already making recruiting visits for his next job, Diaz is still focused on getting revenge for the Hurricanes and players are backing him up.

“We have a chance to enact an order of revenge since Wisconsin beat us last year in the Orange Bowl,” Diaz told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “It may sound like a cliche, but we have unfinished business this week.”

“Of course we want to send him out on a high note and of course the fact that he’s staying and wants to coach this game means a lot,” linebacker Zach McCloud exclaimed to the Sun-Sentinel. “If he were to just ‘peace out’ and go right over there [to Temple], I’d still have all the same love for him. But it means that much more that he’s staying here, coaching us up and he’s not giving up.”

Wisconsin’s offensive line has allowed only 21 sacks all year, an average of 1.75/game. Part of the second best defensive unit in the country, Miami’s defensive line has made a living out of getting to the quarterback in a hurry this season with 37 sacks, good enough for 10th in the country.

Unfortunately for the Canes, Willis made the decision to skip the Pinstripe Bowl in order to fully recover from a hand injury and get a head start on preparations for the NFL Draft.

DE Joe Jackson and LB Shaq Quarterman have looming decisions on declaring for the draft as well but for now, Wisconsin will have to devise a plan to contain the two juniors on defense as they totaled 14.5 and 13 tackles-for-loss, respectively.

Despite Miami’s struggles on offense this season, the defense has kept them alive in many games this season and stopping Jonathan Taylor will be instrumental in any possibility of a victory.

The Pinstripe Bowl will be taking place at the renowned Yankee Stadium this Thursday, December 27th at 5:15 PM with a national telecast by ESPN.

Comments (8)

Nice write-up. Here is mine:

The good: it will not be raining.

The bad: the point spread is now falling like a rock and is about to go to Miami -2.5 after previously Miami -4.

The ugly: Malik. Rosier. 'Nuff said.
The good: Rosier's last game

The bad: I gotta watch this offense one more time this season