Miami football ends season with third straight loss, falls to Wisconsin in Orange Bowl

Photo credit: Josh White

In 2017, the Wisconsin Badgers drew national attention for an elite defense and one of the best running backs in the country.

But on Saturday night, they were led by a few unlikely heroes.

Quarterback Alex Hornibrook threw for 258 yards and four touchdowns, A.J. Taylor pulled in 105 yards receiving and freshman Danny Davis caught three touchdowns, pushing the No. 6 Badgers to a 34-24 win over the No. 10-ranked Miami Hurricanes in the Capital One Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium.

Wisconsin (13-1) scored on all five of its drives in the red zone and went 7-15 on third down to stifle the Miami (10-3) defense. The Badgers capture their first ever 13-win season.

For the Hurricanes, the loss brings an end to a rollercoaster of a season. Despite winning their first 10 games, reaching a national ranking of No. 2 and winning the Coastal Division, UM ends 2017 with three-straight losses, all of which came with disappointing offensive performances.

Miami came out hot, scoring back-to-back touchdowns in the first quarter to take an early 11-point lead. Wisconsin was playing out of character, looking nothing like the team that ranked in the top four in opponent points per game allowed and total yards per game allowed. UM seemed like it might have regained its offensive punch that it failed to produce in its previous two games against Pittsburgh and Clemson.

But then, the Hurricanes went cold and reverted back to their old ways.

Hornibrook flipped the switch, leading the Badgers to 21 unanswered points. They took the momentum, and the defense followed suit.

Canes starting quarterback Malik Rosier passed for 203 yards but threw just one touchdown to three interceptions. Miami managed only 60 yards rushing in the second half and went 2-10 on third down.

Wisconsin controlled the pace for the majority of the contest, doubling Miami’s time of possession 40-20. Freshman running back Jonathan Taylor, who ranks fourth in the country in total rushing yards, had 130 yards on the ground on 26 carries, breaking NFL star Adrian Peterson’s record for total rushing yards in a season for a freshman.

Miami’s defense, which ranked No. 3 in turnover margin per game and No. 1 in sacks per game, forced only one turnover and one sack.

After a 35-point loss to Clemson in the ACC Championship Game, Hurricanes coaches admitted the team was still getting adjusted to the “big game spotlight.” It looks like the adjustment will continue going into next season.

Wisconsin wins its fourth consecutive bowl game. For UM, its first Orange Bowl appearance since 2004 ends in disappointment.

Despite his struggles late in the season, Rosier set a school record for most total touchdowns in a season with 31. The Miami coaching staff will have some decisions to make with the starting quarterback position come Fall 2018.