The 2017 season isn’t ending the way the Wisconsin Badgers — or their fans — would have liked.
Nevertheless, the Badgers will be playing in one of the marquee non-playoff bowl games. And, like every other games but one this season, Wisconsin is favored to beat its opponent, in this case Miami, which has lost back-to-back games entering the Orange Bowl (by 10 points at Pittsburgh and then getting beat down by Clemson in the ACC title game 38-3).
With both teams entering the Orange Bowl coming off a loss and this game being played on Miami’s home field, it’s no surprise that both teams are getting some love from prognosticators. But it’s not the Hurricanes who are getting the most of it.
If the majority of predictors are correct, Wisconsin will have its first 13-win season in school history. As you’ll see below, Badgers fans (after getting over that Big Ten title game loss) are firmly on UW’s side as well.
Here’s the final picks of the 2017 season from around the web and Twitter:
ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg: Wisconsin 23, Miami 17. “We know how good Miami can be on its home field, but unless the turnover chain comes out 3-4 times — Wisconsin has committed 23 turnovers this season — the Canes could be in trouble. Wisconsin’s defense will redeem itself in a big way, and running back Jonathan Taylor will have a strong finish to his freshman season.”
Kevin McGuire of Athlon Sports: Wisconsin 26, Miami 23. “Say what you will about Wisconsin’s schedule this season, but the Badgers didn’t go 12-0 by accident. They used a good mix of their defense and running game to overpower many of their opponents along the way. They just could not do that against Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game, because everything Wisconsin is capable of doing, Ohio State is equipped to do even better. That may not be quite the case for Miami at this point in time. The Hurricanes took tremendous strides forward this season in being able to take care of their schedule, but also showed they are far from invincible with an ugly loss against a mediocre Pittsburgh team and after getting thoroughly outplayed by Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. In fact, the conference title games were eye-openers for both teams, but this matchup offers a clean slate with a chance to end the season on the right note. There will be no reason to deviate from the game plan for the Badgers, and the running game will have a more productive outing compared to the Big Ten title game. It may be a slow start for both teams, but Wisconsin will manage to keep a couple more drives going in the end to get a win.”
Bill Bender of The Sporting News: Miami 24, Wisconsin 21.
Pete Fiutak of Collegefootballnews.com: Wisconsin 26, Miami 17. “The Wisconsin defense will be too much for the Miami offense. Don’t expect anything flashy from the Badgers. Punts aren’t going to be a bad thing, field position will be a big deal, and the D will match Miami’s production possession after possession. Ball control will mean everything for Wisconsin. Hornibrook will give up one big pick, but the UW O line will take over with power and toughness, controlling the clock and the game in the second half. Miami won’t have the firepower to bust loose.”
Daniel Gallen of pennlive.com: Wisconsin 24, Miami 14. “Both teams are coming off letdown losses in their respective conference championship games. There’s no telling how either team will respond, though it will have been nearly a month since the games when they meet. Both teams have opportunistic defenses, so points might be at a premium in this one.”
David Kenyon of Bleacher Report: Miami 23, Wisconsin 17. “Succeeding against the Wisconsin defense at full strength is hard enough. Miami will be without its most talented running back (Mark Walton), receiver (Ahmmon Richards) and tight end (Chris Herndon) in the bowl game. However, the combination of Miami’s run defense and Alex Hornibrook’s turnover woes is a major problem for the Badgers in what is effectively a home game for the ‘Canes.”
Bill Connelly of SB Nation: His S&P+ projection has it Wisconsin 28, Miami 20.
PickCenter: TeamRankings has a projected score of 26.4-19.2 while NumberFire’s average is 23.2-20.0, both with Wisconsin winning. The latter also gives the Badgers just a 33.4 percent likelihood of covering a spread of 6.5 points.