On both sides of the ball, Wisconsin (8-5, 5-4 Big Ten) took control. The Badgers gained 406 yards against a Hurricanes defense that came in allowing an average of 268.3 per contest. That unit only allowed 127.5 per game on the ground, but UW gained 333 in that category.
Sophomore running back Jonathan Taylor rushed for 205 of those yards on 27 carries with a touchdown to earn Pinstripe Bowl MVP honors. It was the fifth time this season and the eighth time in his collegiate career that he has gone over 200 yards in a game.
On the flip side, Miami (7-6, 4-4 ACC) came into the game scoring nearly 31 points and over 197 rushing yards per contest. Defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard’s group held the Hurricanes to a field goal and 121 yards on the ground. Overall, “The U” only gained 169 total yards and coughed up the ball five times.
Those five turnovers forced by Wisconsin turned into 21 points. UW’s inside linebackers shined on Thursday night. Redshirt senior T.J. Edwards led the team with nine tackles, one for loss, but also recorded an interception and fumble recovery. Starting in place of the injured Ryan Connelly, redshirt junior Chris Orr tallied eight stops (one for loss) plus an interception of his own.
Another redshirt senior playing in his final game at Wisconsin, outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel registered eight tackles, two for loss, plus a sack and forced fumble in win.
“AAAAANDREW VAN GINKELLLLL”— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) December 28, 2018
8 tackles (4 solo)
2 tackles for loss
1 forced fumble
1 postgame serenade from teammates. What a night for Andrew Van Ginkel.#OnWisconsin // #Badgers pic.twitter.com/m98HdzwWzz
Wisconsin started off the game hot, gashing the Miami defense for first downs with an early taste of Taylor.
Out of 11 personnel on 3rd-and-9, Coan found Kendric Pryor for a 35-yard touchdown. After Rafael Gaglianone’s extra point, UW led 7-0.
Making his return to his home state, Coan completed 6-of-11 passes for just 73 yards with a touchdown and interception, but he also found the end zone on a late rushing score in the fourth quarter.
The lead extended on its very next series after Malik Rosier threw a costly interception on Miami’s first offensive play of the game. Redshirt sophomore safety Eric Burrell picked off the pass and took it to the Hurricanes’ seven-yard line.
The very next play, Taylor carried it in for a touchdown. Less than four minutes into the game, Wisconsin led 14-0.
The Badgers were well on their way to adding on to their first quarter scoring spree with an impressive 39-yard run from Taylor. UW’s offense would get the ball to the Miami 22 on this drive. However, Coan threw a costly interception near the sideline after eluding the Miami pass rush. Jaquan Johnson came up with the pick at the Hurricanes’ eight-yard line.
The very next play, Rosier kept the ball on a zone read look and ran 62 yards to the UW 30. Miami would get to the UW 16, but the Badgers held from there. Kicker Bubba Baxa connected on a field goal from 33 yards out to cut the deficit to 14-3.
Wisconsin went into halftime with that 11-point lead, but it likely should have been more. Its defense forced three turnovers in the first half but only came away with seven points on that Taylor touchdown early in the game.
Gaglianone missed two field goals from distances he normally connects on—41 and 39 yards. It has not been a kind senior campaign for Wisconsin’s all-time field goal kicker.
Wisconsin would take advantage of of two turnovers in the second half, however.
In the third quarter, the Badgers’ defense recorded its fourth takeaway of the game, as Edwards perfectly read Rosier on a 3rd-and-6 from the UW 36. His interception negated a 35-yard punt return by DeeJay Dallas to the UW 40 that gave Miami great field position to start the series.
From there, Wisconsin capitalized in getting into the end zone for its third touchdown of the game. Another long Taylor run, this time a 41-yard sprint, helped the Badgers set up shop in the red zone at the Miami five-yard line. Two plays later, senior fullback Alex Ingold scored from two yards out. Gaglianone’s extra point made it 21-3 with 3:36 remaining in the quarter.
In the fourth quarter—with now N’Kosi Perry in the game for Miami at quarterback for Rosier—another turnover resulted in a Wisconsin score. Perry threw a poor pass, which redshirt sophomore cornerback Caesar Williams reeled in for an interception. That set up UW for another scoring opportunity at the Hurricanes’ 34-yard line.
Five plays later, Coan took the ball on a quarterback keeper and ran into the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown. Wisconsin extended its lead to 28-3.
The Badgers’ offense added its last score with eight seconds left in the game, as redshirt senior Taiwan Deal capped off his Wisconsin career with a one-yard score.
In his final collegiate game, Deal ran for 52 yards on 10 carries as a solid complement to Taylor in Wisconsin’s rushing attack.
That is now five straight bowl victories for the Badgers.
Taylor ends his sophomore campaign with 2,194 yards on 7.1 yards per carry and 16 rushing touchdowns. That ranks second in school history for single-season rushing yards to only Melvin Gordon’s 2,587 in 2014.