We all know this was not the destination the Wisconsin Badgers wanted to go to at the beginning of the 2018 season. Expectations were high, national pundits boasted College Football Playoff talk and the hype train rolled on after an undefeated 2017 regular season that ended with UW defeating Miami in the Orange Bowl.
Despite the 7-5 record, this season ended a lot like last year with Wisconsin once again defeating Miami in impressive fashion. On Thursday, the Badgers embarrassed the Hurricanes in a 35-3 victory in the 2018 Pinstripe Bowl inside Yankee Stadium.
How embarrassing was it for the Miami faithful? Well, AD Blake James issued this statement after the game:
Jonathan Taylor ran wild on Miami’s vaunted defense to the tune of 205 yards on 27 carries with a touchdown, further cementing his status as one of Wisconsin’s most impressive running backs of all-time despite just being a sophomore.
What should also be celebrated from Thursday’s win is the play of those who played their last game at Wisconsin. Defensively, redshirt seniors T.J. Edwards and Andrew Van Ginkel balled out, combining for 17 tackles. Both contributed to the five turnovers forced against Miami’s offense and set the tone for holding the Hurricanes to just a field goal.
Offensively, Wisconsin rushed for 333 yards against a Miami unit that allowed an average of just 127.5 coming into the bowl matchup. Redshirt senior guards Michael Deiter and Beau Benzschawel helped pave the way for Taylor, the Doak Walker Award winner, to claim his fifth 200-yard rushing performance of the season on way to Pinstripe Bowl MVP honors.
After a career riddled with injuries, Taiwan Deal capped off his collegiate career with a one-yard touchdown with eight seconds left in the game. He rushed for 52 yards on 10 carries on Thursday, which was a microcosm of the season where he became a great complement to Taylor. Overall, he rushed for 545 yards on 6.6 yards per carry in 2018.
Of course, we cannot forget about America’s favorite fullback, Alec Ingold. After ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday, the personal finance major opened holes for his running backs but also carried the rock himself five times on those patented fullback dives. One of those went for Wisconsin’s third touchdown of the day to put the Badgers up 21-3.
Paul Chryst’s squad could have mailed it in during one of the many non-New Year’s Six bowls, but the Badgers did not. Despite leaving some points on the board in that first half, the team controlled Miami and set the tone early. The Hurricanes simply never got on track.
A lot of credit should be given to this group of seniors for the dominant win, who will leave UW with a large number of victories and accolades both team-wide and individual. Quite a few players should have the opportunity to play on Sundays in the NFL, and they ended their time at Wisconsin with one last W.
The 2018 Pinstripe Bowl MVP rushed for 205 yards on the day inside the iconic baseball stadium, and Miami simply did not have an answer for him. Taylor picked up nine chunk plays of 10 or more yards on Thursday, with sprints of 41 and 39 yards highlighting another impressive outing.
As UW pointed out, he became the fifth Badger to rush for over 200 yards in a bowl game, joining an elite group of backs.
The redshirt senior tallied nine tackles, one for loss, plus an interception and fumble recovery. His leadership and playmaking ability helped contain Miami to just 169 total yards in the game.
Andrew Van Ginkel
The former JUCO transfer shined, recording eight tackles (four solo), two tackles for loss and a sack. The Edwards fumble recovery in the second quarter was caused by Van Ginkel, who was credited with stripping the ball from Miami running back Travis Homer.
Stepping up for the injured Ryan Connelly, the redshirt junior registered eight tackles, one for loss, along with an athletic interception of a Malik Rosier pass in the first half.
Awaiting decisions on who leaves early for the NFL
Really, the two names that I am watching are offensive linemen Tyler Biadasz and David Edwards. The latter did not play on Thursday due to injury, but WISC-TV’s Melissa Kim asked Biadasz about his process:
Sophomore Tyler Biadasz said afterward he hasn’t decided whether he’ll return to Wisconsin or turn pro. He said he’ll go home and talk with family and coaches before making his choice. He did say he believes he’s ready for the league but more goes into it.
“It’s just that your opportunity comes and it depends on when you want to seize that opportunity,” Biadasz said. “That’s kind of what I have to think about right now.”
Positional year in reviews
This weekend, we will have a quick roundtable on Thursday’s win with our group of writers, but also check back in with B5Q next week as we will dissect Wisconsin position-by-position.
A couple of Graham Mertz articles
In the coming days, B5Q will publish a couple of articles on the 2019 four-star signee. One will be on the expectations for the incoming true freshman, as we spoke with him, his high school coach and two former Wisconsin quarterbacks. The other will focus on his journey overall and will have insight from Mertz, his parents and his high school coach. Stay tuned for more!
Wisconsin men’s basketball vs. Western Kentucky
Greg Gard’s squad closes out regular season non-conference action against the Hilltoppers in Bowling Green, Ky. We will have a game preview up early Saturday as Wisconsin looks to win its 11th game of the season before Big Ten action kicks back up against Minnesota on Jan. 3.