Admittedly on a Monday morning, I’m still recovering from this weekend.
More like the travel and less than three hours of sleep after writing, uploading, and publishing content all Saturday night. I’m not that young, spry, 22-year-old senior who can pull an all-nighter anymore. Three kids, married life, and a career will apparently do that to you, and a five-hour-plus drive through the
rolling hills flat land of Illinois is what you’d think it would be, though I had some wonderful company with me on the travels.
But hey, I enjoyed my first Waffle House experience ... maybe too much. Gut still feels it today.
Despite the playoff-disintegrating, national title-crushing loss on Saturday night, there is still a lot to look forward to for Wisconsin to end the season. Potentially 13 wins, a second New Year’s Six bowl in three years under the guidance of Paul Chryst, and the forward trajectory continuing for the football program are all things for the Badgers to pride themselves on heading into the Orange Bowl.
Despite Miami’s two-loss downswing at the end of the year, the ACC Coastal champion boasts an offense averaging 422.9 yards (164.7 rushing, 258.2 passing) and 31.9 points per game heading into the Dec. 30 clash with Wisconsin.
The Hurricanes’ defense only allows 18.3 points per game, good for 18th in the FBS while placing 11th in defensive pass efficiency (109.01). They do allow 152.4 yards per game on the ground, but there is that reputation for creating turnovers (hello, “Turnover Chain”).
Miami is first in turnover margin (+17) and fourth in the nation in takeaways gained altogether (29).
This will be a game Wisconsin can win, but it will have to not shoot itself in the foot and control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball—which have been narratives (both positive and negative) throughout the season.
Another reason to care: a senior class that has helped the last three teams win their final game. The 13 departing seniors have allowed their predecessors before them, from the 2015 Outback Bowl with athletic director Barry Alvarez leading the squad through last year’s Cotton Bowl, to go out on top.
UWBadgers.com’s Andy Baggot detailed this weekend what this class—with 44 victories, the winningest in school history—has gone through.
It will in all likelihood mean something to senior cornerback Derrick Tindal, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native, along with Miami native and fellow cornerback Dontye Carriere-Williams (St. Thomas Aquinas). Eight Wisconsin players are from the Sunshine State, including freshman Faion Hicks (a Miami native and Flanagan High School product) and starting safeties D’Cota Dixon and Natrell Jamerson (technically, they hail from Oak Hill and Ocala, respectively—it’s a big state and still a decent drive to Miami).
It will not be a cakewalk, but Wisconsin has another chance to knock off a nationally-respected (and now resurgent) program. The Badgers have beaten the likes of Auburn, USC, and LSU in recent years. Why not add “The U” to the list?
Andrew Van Ginkel
The redshirt junior has been a pleasant surprise and a playmaker in his first year as a Badger. On Saturday night, his first-quarter pick-six and the strip/recovery on Mike Weber contributed to Wisconsin’s 10 first-half points.
And here we go. Andrew Van Ginkel picks off J.T. Barrett for an easy touchdown. 7-7 in Indy. pic.twitter.com/qyCS6OsyJd— Eleven Warriors (@11W) December 3, 2017
The former junior college transfer ranks fourth on the team in tackles for loss (nine) and is tied for second in sacks (5.5).
#PuntersGetGameBallsToo. The sophomore punter averaged nearly 45 yards per punt on eight attempts. He now holds the record for punts and yards (359) in Big Ten Championship Game history. He punted a conference game-record eight times for 359 yards. His 44.9 yard-per-punt average is fifth-best in the game itself.
#YesKickersGetGameBallsToo. Hintze nailed all five kickoffs for touchbacks. Honestly, the special teams outside of the returners were magnificent on Saturday night, including Rafael Gaglianone drilling two field goals. For the season, the walk-on has kicked off 72 times, with 50 of them resulting in touchbacks.
Wisconsin's kickoffs have been incredible tonight. And I have no shame in saying that.— Mike Fiammetta (@mikefiammetta) December 3, 2017
We know his versatility within Wisconsin’s offense, and with two big receptions this weekend, he showed he could make a living in the NFL.
Plays of the game
Ohio State’s four big “chunk” plays
Out of the 449 yards gained against the Badgers on Saturday night, 271 were from four plays. We broke that down on Sunday, but it was uncharacteristic of Jim Leonhard’s unit and what ultimately led to defeat.
The red-zone interception thrown by Alex Hornibrook in the first quarter
It essentially set up Ohio State’s first touchdown on J.T. Barrett’s 84-yard pass and thwarted Wisconsin’s attempt at points on its second drive. A potential 14-point, essentially 10-point swing started the Badgers off on the wrong foot in the opening quarter.
For those saying this loss was on Hornibrook: He may not have had the best game, but this one was on the offensive line and rushing attack being dominated by Ohio State’s front seven.
The no-call on Wisconsin’s final offensive drive
I absolutely detest calling out the refs in any manner for a game’s outcome. You cannot let the zebras decide the contest.
And yet, this no-call of defensive pass interference of Danny Davis—combined with Michael Deiter’s holding penalty on the same play—stalled out the offense’s last breath of an attempt to win the game.
Four consecutive completions set up a 1st-and-10 at Ohio State’s 43-yard line and momentum was climbing. If that penalty is called, the two against both teams offset and you replay the down at the 43. Wisconsin could not overcome the extra 10 yards near midfield on the final four plays after that.
It was an obvious miss by the refs, but to be fair, plenty other plays ultimately decided this game. This one just cemented Wisconsin’s fate in the final couple of minutes.