Time for part two in my ‘better late than never’ series.
This time I will be looking at Miami (FL) versus Wisconsin.
December 29th, 2009 8:00 PM ET
Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Florida
This game represents the first time a Big Ten team will take the field this bowl season, so it is relatively important as far as the whole ‘image’ thing goes for the conference.
It is beyond dispute that the Big Ten has a generally unfavorable reputation amongst the national media at the moment, so winning bowl games becomes that much more important.
This also represents the first game this bowl season that I am actually excited to watch. Maybe that makes me a bad fan, but whatever, I can deal with that. Let’s just say that I am a Buckeye fan first, second, and third, a Big Ten fan fourth, and then a college football fan fifth.
This game also represents a match-up (according to ESPN) between a lightning quick Florida school and a slow plodding Big Ten school which we get to hear so much about every time a Big Ten team loses, but not so much when they win, which happens from time to time as well.
So this game is important for the Big Ten’s reputation, important for at least making ESPN look stupid (I have given up on actually changing ESPN’s talking points) for continuously peddling the southern speed BS that they never seem to get sick of, and important because it is actually a match up between two top 25 teams, which (I think) is the first ranked pairing.
This is also the first time that Miami (FL) will play a Big Ten team since they lost to Ohio State in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl. Good times.
So grab a six pack and enjoy the show tonight.
Wisconsin comes into the bowl winners in 5 of their last 6 games. However, the loss was to Northwestern in the second to last game of the year. Take from that what you will.
On offense, Wisconsin is Wisconsin.
Big, bruising back running behind a good to great offensive line. This year that back goes by the name of John Clay who was the Big Ten Offensive POTY after rushing for 1396 yards, good for 116.3 per game.
Miami (FL) has a respectable rush defense (28th, 118.33 per game) so it should be interesting to see if Wisconsin can establish the run early. If they can, that will obviously go a long way towards a Wisconsin win.
On the flip side, Wisconsin fields a (somewhat) surprisingly good defense that is ranked 19th nationally in total defense and 8th against the run. If Wisconsin can pressure Jacory Harris early and often with their defense front (it helps that Miami’s LT is out with an injury) and establish the run on offense, they will be in good shape.
That is pretty much their game plan every week for the Badgers, like I said, Wisconsin is Wisconsin.
Miami is a young team with lots of talent (they should be a lot of fun to play in The Shoe next year, but more on that in the summer) who is having their best year in quite some time.
They boast a 9-3 record but when I look at their schedule, I really don’t see an impressive win since week 4 when they beat an injured Oklahoma team 21-20.
Since then they have lost to Clemson and North Carolina, and have had a close call against Wake Forest, narrowly edging out the victory 28-27.
What does this all mean? probably not much, but the Hurricanes haven’t really beat a good team in a long time, and they will be without the starting left tackle Jason Fox, leading me to believe that Wisconsin has a decent shot in this game.
Based on my record at picking bowls, however, I could very well be wrong.
Regardless, I will be rooting for Wisconsin.
Mali (8-3): Miami
Eric (6-5): Miami
Jeff (4-7): Miami
Jim (4-7): Wisconsin
Thanks to A&M (hey, at least I was right about them having a terrible defense) Jeff and I have fallen a bit further behind the pack.
Since I am the only one to choose Wisconsin in the game, I can either solidify my last place position or finally make a move. The funny thing is, we chose these games well in advance of the first bowl way back when, so my knack for picking the underdog has hurt me thus far, but could allow me to climb back into contention.
More than likely I will just fall further back, but hey, one game at a time. Hopefully Wisconsin can get the W tonight.