The No. 10 Miami Hurricanes (7-1 ACC, 10-3 overall) had the rare opportunity to host their own bowl game, but after four quarters of the Capital One Orange Bowl, the No 6. Wisconsin Badgers (9-1 Big Ten, 13-1 overall) owned the field at Hard Rock Stadium.
Miami came out with an early lead after some uncharacteristic lapses by the Badgers’ defense. Wisconsin allowed two first-quarter rushing touchdowns, including a 39-yard wildcat breakaway by Miami freshman DeeJay Dallas, who made three different Badgers miss on his run.
The Badgers responded with one of their most dominant quarters of the season. They possessed the ball for more than 11 minutes in the second period as redshirt sophomore quarterback Alex Hornibrook threw for three touchdowns without an incompletion.
Wisconsin knew the Hurricanes would play a lot of man coverage, so they took advantage by hitting back-shoulder throws downfield with some well-placed balls from Hornibrook.
Another workhorse performance from freshman running back Jonathan Taylor certainly helped too. He had his 10th 100-yard game, putting up 130 on 26 carries to break the all-time single-season rushing record for a freshman in FBS history with 1,977 yards.
The Badgers’ defense got back into a rhythm after the first quarter, intercepting Miami redshirt junior quarterback Malik Rosier three times to hold the Hurricanes to just 10 second-half points.
They also had some help in the form of two missed field goals by Miami senior kicker Michael Badgley.
The Orange Bowl victory was redemption for a Wisconsin team that saw its first-ever undefeated season come to an end in the Big Ten Championship.
The win over a Top-10 opponent, from out of conference, further legimized the success the Badgers had this season, demonstrating a quality win in a difficult environment.
Hornibrook left Badgers fans with a lot to be excited about heading into 2018, with almost the entire offense set to return for another try for a title run.
It might not have been the bowl game Wisconsin wanted to be playing in, but they went out on top with a statement game to end a statement season for the program.