NEW YORK — The pregame billing had it as a showdown between an elite pass defense and the country’s best running back. In the end, both units turned out to be wearing red and white.
Wisconsin’s defense intercepted Miami quarterback Malik Rosier three times and held him to just 46 yards, while Doak Walker Award-winning running back Jonathan Taylor ran wild on the highly-touted Hurricanes defense with 205 rushing yards as the Badgers (5-4 Big Ten, 8-6 overall) dominated Miami (4-4 ACC, 7-6) by a lopsided 35-3 margin.
Offensively, the Badgers set the tone early as Taylor carried the first three plays of the game for 29 yards. It wasn’t until the sixth play of the game that sophomore quarterback Jack Coan was forced to throw.
Facing off against the nation’s top-ranked pass defense, sophomore quarterback Coan made the most of his first opportunity, throwing a strike to receiver Kendric Pryor that the sophomore took through a seam in the secondary for a 35-yard touchdown.
Miami’s first pass didn’t go nearly as well. Rosier threw an interception on the first play from scrimmage that safety Eric Burrell took back 29 yards to set the Badgers up on the Miami 7-yard line. Taylor punched it in a play later to put Wisconsin up 14-0 just three minutes and 30 seconds into the contest.
Wisconsin established the run early, with five players carrying the ball 16 times for 122 yards in the first quarter alone. Miami’s defensive line had trouble stopping the Badgers on the interior especially, and the loss of All-American defensive tackle Gerald Willis III looked especially painful for the Hurricanes.
The Badgers wouldn’t score for another 38 minutes of game time after their second touchdown, a stretch that gave their defense a chance to shine under the bright lights of Yankee Stadium.
Miami broke a single big play — a 62-yard scamper by Rosier — and otherwise spent the night bottled up by Wisconsin’s defense. Outside of that carry, the Hurricanes ran 28 plays for just 95 yards and turned the ball over five times during the Badger scoring drought.
Inside linebackers T.J. Edwards and Chris Orr came up big, disrupting Miami in the run game and outsmarting Rosier when he tried to pass. Both Edwards and Orr came up with interceptions on plays where the quarterback seemed to look past them, focused on his receiver.
Wisconsin had multiple chances to get points on the board during those 38 scoreless minutes, including a pair of Rafael Gaglianone field goals that missed wide from 41 and 39 yards. Well into the third quarter, the Badgers had a significant advantage in yardage but hadn’t managed to put the Hurricanes away.
Eventually, it was a healthy dose of Jonathan Taylor that cured Wisconsin’s offensive ailments. The sophomore got the first two carries of a third-quarter drive following Edwards’ interception and brought Wisconsin all the way down to the Miami 5-yard line before stock market hero Alec Ingold punched it in for the 21-3 lead.
Yet another interception, this time of Miami backup N’Kosi Perry, set up another Wisconsin scoring drive that allowed Coan to show off his legs on a 7-yard touchdown run off a read-option play. The Badgers used the read-option only a couple times during the game, but it created a different look than they had with starter Alex Hornibrook.
Wisconsin salted away the game on the ground after going up 28-3 on Coan’s touchdown run and ended the night with 58 carries for 333 yards.
Senior running back Taiwan Deal closed the night with a 1-yard touchdown run, cementing the final score and Wisconsin's fifth-straight bowl victory.
Wisconsin held Miami’s combination of quarterbacks to 48 yards on 17 attempts with four interceptions and limited the Hurricanes to 169 yards overall.