It’s not often that we see a rematch of a bowl game from last year the very next year, but that’s what we have in this year’s Pinstripe Bowl. The Wisconsin Badgers knocked off the Miami Hurricanes in the Orange Bowl last year. Although Miami was playing a virtual home game, the Badgers were a 6.5-point favorite on the NCAAF betting line ahead of the game and they ended up covering the spread in a 34-24 victory. Both teams have had disappointing seasons this year, and the Pinstripe Bowl is a significant step down in the pecking order and in terms of location, but each team will be looking to end its season on a high note.
Wisconsin Badgers vs. Miami (FL) Hurricanes Pinstripe Bowl Betting Odds: Miami (FL) -4, O/U 47 Location: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York Date and Time: Thursday, December 27, 2018, 5:15 p.m. ET Pinstripe Bowl TV Coverage: ESPN
The Badgers were expected to win the Big Ten West yet again coming into the season, but the program collapsed under lofty expectations. An early season loss to BYU was indicative of what was to come as the passing game failed to do much of anything, and the defense was a bigger issue than anyone realized. Wisconsin ended up losing four conference games this year, and the school needed three overtimes to beat Purdue in order to prevent ending the season with a losing record in Big Ten play. They also surrendered Paul Bunyan’s Axe for the first time in 15 years, falling to Minnesota 37-15 in their season finale.
Miami entered the season with lofty expectations as well, and just like Wisconsin, quarterback play was a large part of why they fell fat short. The Hurricanes shook off a season-opening thrashing at the hands of LSU to win five in a row, but then they lost four straight conference games, failing to score more than 21 points in any defeat. Unlike Wisconsin, Miami ended its season on a high note, knocking off Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh to get to 4-4 in ACC play.
Injuries and Absences
Injuries have taken their toll on Wisconsin this season. Four starters suffered season-ending injuries over the course of the season, and the defense was particularly hard-hit. Defensive end Garrett Rand tore his ACL in summer practice, and the man in the middle was lost for the year last month when NT Olive Sagapolu hurt his right arm. DE Keldric Preston, CB Dontye Carriere-Williams, and S Patrick Johnson all left the team too. Coming into this game, back-up RB Taiwan Deal, S Scott Nelson, and star RT David Edwards are all questionable.
The Hurricanes had one of the best receiving tandems in the conference coming into the year, but neither Ahmonn Richards or Jeff Thomas will play in this one. Richards suffered a season-ending knee injury, while Thomas was dismissed from the team in late November despite being the team’s leading receiver at the time. Miami is also depleted at tight end, but the team got good news when it was announced earlier in the week that both Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory are likely to play.
Mark Richt is at Miami for the long-term. This will probably be Richt’s last job one way or the other, and he is likely to leave coaching altogether when he is done at Miami. His return to his alma mater has been a success so far, despite the disappointment this year, and he has reinvigorated the program. Richt is 11-6 in bowl games in his career.
This is Paul Chryst’s fourth year at Wisconsin, and this has been his most disappointing season by far. The Badgers had won at least 10 games in each of his three previous seasons, and their last two bowl appearances were New Year’s Six bowls. Chryst has won all three of his previous bowl appearances at Wisconsin.
Matchup to Watch
Quarterback play will be key for both teams in this one. Wisconsin’s Alex Hornibrook certainly regressed this season. All of his numbers were down from last year and to make matters worse, he was injured for the last half of the year. He only had two games where he threw for more than 200 yards, and Hornibrook has thrown multiple interceptions in four straight games coming into this one.
Richt has juggled quarterbacks Malik Rosier and N’Kosi Perry this year, but Perry is likely to be the starter in this game. He has had some struggles due to his youth and inexperience, yet those are growing pains and he has shown more potential than Rosier. Neither quarterback has been particularly accurate though and Perry completed just 6 of 24 passes against Pittsburgh in the season finale.
Pinstripe Bowl Pick
Although this game is played in New York in late December with inclement weather (typically), this bowl game has usually been higher scoring than you would expect. I don’t think that will hold here given these quarterbacks though, and the under is the best play in this game. Few offensive lineman injuries cause lines to move, but keep an eye on Edwards’ status. He is likely going to be a first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, so not having him will hurt.