A pair of teams with College Football Playoff aspirations for much of the season — and that saw those hopes end with losses in conference championship games — will meet on Dec. 30 at Hard Rock Stadium, the Hurricanes’ home field.
No. 11 Miami (10-2, No. 10 CFP) is going to the Orange for the 10th time. The Hurricanes earned the berth after ending as the highest-ranked Atlantic Coast Conference team that did not make the CFP field. It’s the first Orange Bowl for No. 6 Wisconsin (12-1, No. 6 CFP), which saw its undefeated season end Saturday in a loss to Ohio State at the Big Ten title game.
That defeat almost certainly kept Wisconsin out of the four-team CFP field. Miami still may have been in the title mix if it beat No. 1 Clemson in the ACC title game, but the Hurricanes were overwhelmed 38-3.
Miami coach Mark Richt said going to the Orange Bowl is going to be “a wonderful opportunity” for the Hurricanes, who won 10 games this year for the first time since 2003 — which, ironically, was the last season in which Miami went to the Orange Bowl.
“One of the classic bowl games in America,” Richt said.
The Hurricanes and Badgers haven’t played in eight years, and that was at the Champs Sports Bowl. Both have strong defenses, with Wisconsin’s ranking No. 1 nationally in yards allowed in No. 2 in points allowed.
And even though the Badgers missed the CFP, players say sending the seniors out winners will remain a priority.
“They deserve to go out with a win,” Badgers offensive lineman Michael Deiter said. “The things they’ve done for this program and this football team, they deserve to go out and win a bowl game and go out the right way.”
Miami is just the third team to go to the Orange Bowl while on a two-game losing streak. The others were both LSU teams, in the 1943 and 1973 seasons.
“It’s a home game,” Miami receiver Braxton Berrios said. “I think that will be really exciting for the team.”
Here’s some of what to know about the Orange Bowl matchup:
HOME, SORT OF: Miami was 7-0 at home this season, this game is played in its home stadium and the Hurricanes will be the designated home team for the game. But it will technically be called a neutral-site game, and the Hurricanes likely won’t get to use their usual locker room. Past “home” teams for the Orange Bowl have used the Miami Dolphins’ locker room on game night.
UNCOMMON OPPONENTS: There’s no common opponent between Wisconsin and Miami this season, and it’s only the fifth time that the Badgers and Hurricanes will meet. They’ve split four previous matchups.
BADGERS CHASING HISTORY: Wisconsin gets a second chance at recording win No. 13, which would be a single-season record at a school that started playing football in 1889. Wisconsin was 12-1 in 2006, the first year that former coach Bret Bielema was running things in Madison.
ORANGE SUCCESS: Miami is 6-3 in previous trips to the Orange Bowl, with the Hurricanes’ last time in South Florida’s showcase bowl game coming when they topped Florida State 16-14 on Jan. 1, 2004.
FAMILIAR GROUND: Wisconsin has nine players from the state of Florida, including five from the Miami area and one — wide receiver Paul Jackson, who hasn’t recorded any stats this season — who lists Miami Gardens as his hometown. Miami Gardens is the city where Hard Rock Stadium is located. There are no Wisconsin natives on the Miami roster.
Orange Bowl Matchup
Miami (10-2, Atlantic Coast Conference) vs. Wisconsin (12-1, Big Ten), Dec. 30, 8 p.m. EST
LOCATION: Miami Gardens, Florida
Miami: WR Braxton Berrios has 52 catches for 644 yards and nine touchdowns, handles punt returns and was the ACC’s top football scholar-athlete this season.
Wisconsin: RB Jonathan Taylor ranks No. 3 nationally at 142 rushing yards per game, and has broken off at least one run for 41 yards or more in eight of his 12 games this season.
Miami: The Hurricanes are looking to win a bowl game in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2003 and 2004. They’re 7-0 at Hard Rock Stadium this season and will be classified as the “home” team, though this matchup will officially be a neutral-site game. The Hurricanes will be staying in a hotel about 30 miles from their campus during bowl week, because of contractual obligations with the game.
Wisconsin: The Badgers have the nation’s No. 1 defense in yards allowed (253.2 per game) and are No. 2 in scoring defense (13.2 per game). They’re also great on third downs (49 percent, No. 3 nationally) and that’s a big reason why they hold the ball for nearly 36 minutes per game. Wisconsin lost the Big Ten title game for the third time in four years; after the first two, the Badgers recovered to win a bowl game.