Thursday late afternoon’s Pinstripe Bowl features two renowned programs, Miami and Wisconsin, looking to end mediocre seasons on the right note.
- The Game: New Era Pinstripe Bowl
- The Venue: Yankee Stadium, The Bronx, NY
- The Teams: Miami Hurricanes vs. Wisconsin Badgers
- The Time/TV: Thursday at 5:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
An interleague matchup will go down in The Bronx on Thursday late afternoon, but the Yankees and Mets are nowhere to be found.
Instead, a battle between ACC and Big Ten powers will go down in the outfield, as the Miami Hurricanes battle the Wisconsin Badgers in the ninth edition of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.
Seasons So Far
Miami (7-5, 4-4 ACC)
After returning to familiar heights in 2017, earning their first 10-win campaign in 14 years, the Hurricanes were the top-ranked team in the ACC Coastal division media poll released in July. They also enjoyed an eighth-place ranking in the preseason Associated Press poll.
However, their season got off to a tough start in the form of a listless 33-17 loss to LSU in Arlington on Labor Day. Five consecutive wins followed, but things came to a crashing halt on October 13, when the 16th-ranked Hurricanes fell to Virginia in Charlottesville. That loss kicked off a four-game losing streak, all in ACC play. Though the losses came by a one-possession average of 7.5 points, the Hurricanes were in danger of their first sub-.500 regular season since 2007.
However, a dominant 38-14 road victory over Virginia Tech earned Miami bowl eligibility, and they followed it up with a dismantling of the Coastal Division champions from Pittsburgh at home. Behind 293 rushing yards, 168 from junior Travis Homer, the Hurricanes earned a 24-3 win over the Panthers, then ranked 24th in the College Football Playoff standings.
Wisconsin (7-5, 5-4 Big Ten)
The Badgers likewise began the year with big expectations, ranked fourth in the initial AP poll. Championship aspirations were derailed with an upset loss at home to BYU, but they recovered with back-to-back conference victories over Iowa and Nebraska.
Inconsistency, however, defined the remainder of the Badgers’ slate, as they went 3-4 the rest of the way. That stretch featured no consecutive victories, as well as the end of their 14-game winning streak over rival Minnesota. One of the victories, however, was a thrilling triple-overtime victory on the road, besting Purdue 47-44.
Despite failing to live up to massive preseason expectations, the Badgers did send six players to either the first or second All-Big Ten teams. Sophomore rusher Jonathan Taylor led the way, leading the nation with 1,989 yards.
In a bowl rarity, this will be the second consecutive season that ends with the Badgers and Hurricanes partaking in a bowl game. After successful double-digit win seasons, the teams met in last December’s Orange Bowl. Miami took an early 14-3 lead, partly in thanks to a Homer touchdown run. However, the Badgers fought back behind four Alex Hornibrook touchdowns, three of which went to Danny Davis. With those scores and 254 passing yards, Hornibrook earned MVP honors in a 34-24 victory.
The matchup before that was likewise a December bowl game, with Wisconsin winning the 2009 Champs Sports Bowl 20-14. Badgers running back John Clay was the MVP with two scores.
Wisconsin leads the all-time series 3-2, with the last regular-season matchup coming in 1989.
Players To Watch
QB Malik Rosier-The fifth-year senior, one of the stars of Miami’s resurgent 2017 campaign, was benched for redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry earlier in the season. But a social media scandal has given the reigns back to Rosier. Can he end his Coral Gables career on a high note?
LB Shaq Quarterman-The Hurricanes have the second-best defense in the nation in terms of yards allowed (268.3 per game). The unit was represented on the All-American roster by Quarterman, who earned 76 tackles (13 for a loss) and five sacks. The junior will have to take on a big leadership role on Thursday, as Hurricanes defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has departed to take the head job at Temple.
RB Jonathan Taylor-There’s no NFL Draft to prepare for just yet for Taylor. He’ll have to take on an even bigger role on Thursday evening, as Hornibrook will be missing the game with concussion symptoms.
QB Jack Coan-Taking over for the veteran Hornibrook is Coan, a sophomore who came up big in the Purdue win. Coan is a native of Sayville, NY on the South Shore of Long Island, 51 miles from Yankee Stadium.
This will be the fifth Pinstripe Bowl that features an ACC vs. Big Ten matchup. The change began in 2014, coinciding with local schools Syracuse and Rutgers moving to those respective conferences. Previously, the bowl was affiliated with the Big 12 and defunct Big East.
The Big Ten leads the current clash of conferences by a 3-1 margin. The wins did not come easy, as the quartet of matchups has been decided by an average of fewer than five points. Last season, Drake Kulick’s one-yard run with just over three minutes to go helped the Big Ten’s Iowa Hawkeyes top the Boston College Eagles 27-20. Fellow rusher Akrum Wadley was named MVP with 88 yards on 22 carries.
Syracuse is the only school with multiple Pinstripe Bowl victories, winning each of their appearances in 2010 and 2012. Rutgers and Boston College are the other programs with multiple appearances. Rutgers is 1-1, winning in 2011 and falling in 2013, while the aforementioned Eagles also lost in 2014.
Miami and Wisconsin will both be making their first appearances in the game. The Hurricanes are 1-7 in their last eight bowl games, the lone exception being a Russell Athletic Bowl victory over West Virginia in 2016. Contrastly, the Badgers are looking to build on their three-game bowl winning streak.
One year ago, Miami-Wisconsin was a New Year’s Six game. Mark Richt and Paul Cryst each had their programs trending in the right direction, and good times appeared to be on the horizon on both sides.
This time, however, the two programs are reeling, collapsed under big preseason expectations. The game takes on particularly large meaning for Richt and Cryst, each of whom will have to deal with a long offseason of consternation should they drop this game.
The Badgers are reeling from inconsistency, but the efforts of guys like Taylor and guard duo Michael Deiter and Beau Benzschawel, the latter two being seniors going for one more game, should be enough to counter Miami’s strong defense. When the Badgers have the ball, this could morph into one of the more exciting bowl games of the season. Expect some back and forth thrills and sloppiness, emotions that have defined each team’s respective season, but the Badgers’ individual groups should be enough to put them on top in the end.