Biting into the Orange Bowl: Badgers still undervalued

Welcome to the Orange Bowl portion of the Action Network’s 2017-18 College Football Bowl Preview. Make sure you subscribe to our Degen and Juice podcast for even more in-depth weekly bowl previews.

This preview integrates a combination of point spreads, advanced statistics, motivational angles and coaching changes. You can follow all of my plays for free on the SportsAction App through the [App Store] or [Google Play].

All lines taken from Pinnacle as of Dec. 27.

Capital One Orange Bowl

Teams: Wisconsin vs. Miami
Location: Miami
Date: December 30th, 8:00 PM EST

Current CW S&P+ Total
Wisconsin -4.5 Wisconsin -8 Wisconsin -7.5 45


Notes: It’s hard to remember too many marquee games involving Miami where they did not play at home at this season. In this “neutral site” game at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, the Hurricanes will actually play in their home stadium against Wisconsin. While Miami started the season 10-0, they fizzled at the finish line in two road losses against Pitt and Clemson. The Badgers, meanwhile, registered an undefeated regular season before suffering a 27-21 close loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship.

This matchup features two teams with few similarities. Miami relies on a quick-strike offense that ranks 10th in the country in explosiveness. Miami ranks 120th nationally in time of possession, which reflects their offense’s ability to score quickly. Wisconsin, on the other hand, ranks third in time of possession, displaying a run-first mantra that averaged almost 250 yards per game on the ground. The Badgers’ offense relies on their rushing attack to sustain long drives, while their defense that ranks first in the country in overall havoc rate will took to take advantage of a struggling Hurricane offense.

Miami lost senior tight end Christopher Herndon and one of its top receivers, Ahmmon Richards, to season-ending injuries. Consequently, the Canes will feel added pressure to get the ground game going, but they also lost their top running back, Mark Walton, to a season-ending injury earlier in the year. Wisconsin’s super stingy defense excels in the red zone, ranking first in the nation in rushing touchdowns allowed and opponent red zone touchdown scoring percentage. It’s very difficult to get points on the Badgers once you get inside the 40-yard line, as Wisconsin ranks second in the nation in finishing drives defense.

Miami, a much better home team, will certainly play better in front of an electric Hard Rock crowd than they did to end the season, but Wisconsin brings a superior defense at all levels (including the havoc rankings). Wisconsin ranks third in the country on third-down conversion percentage, which should ultimately help give the Badgers the edge they need to pull out a win and cover.

The Pick: Wisconsin -4

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