The home team in this year’s Capital One Orange Bowl is really the home team, as in home-sweet-home team.
“It is our home stadium,’’ Miami coach Mark Richt said with a chuckle regarding the news that his Hurricanes (10-2), which dropped three spots to No. 10 in the final College Football Playoff rankings after losing to No. 1 Clemson 38-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game, would face No. 6 Wisconsin (11-1) in the Orange Bowl at 8 p.m. Dec. 30 at Hard Rock Stadium.
“Our fans have been phenomenal all year long,’’ Richt said in a teleconference. “We just hope [they] continue to support us that way and it will be a great ball game and great atmosphere for college football. Even though we are in our home city, we know we’re going to get a chance to do some things that we normally don’t get to do that the bowl will provide for us, and our players are really looking forward to that.’’
This is the first time UM, which opened as a 6 1/2-point underdog, has been to the Orange Bowl game since the end of the 2003 season — Jan. 2, 2004, when the Hurricanes defeated Florida State 16-14.
“We’re ecstatic,’’ said Orange Bowl chief executive officer Eric Poms of the game, expected to be a sellout. “An ACC-Big Ten matchup featuring the coach of the year in both conferences, and having Miami return to the Capital One Orange Bowl after 14 years and go against a program making its first appearance in the game, is very special.’’
Wisconsin lost its chance to be in the four-team playoff when Ohio State defeated the Badgers 27-21 in the Big Ten title game Saturday. The Buckeyes (11-2, No. 8 CFP) were passed by No. 4 Alabama (11-1) for the last spot in the playoffs.
“A ton of respect for Coach Richt and what he’s done and meant to college football,’’ Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. “Our players were excited when they found out the opportunity and challenge ahead.’’
The Miami Hurricanes were likely catching up on much needed sleep Sunday after arriving home at “4 or 5 in the morning,’’ said Richt, out recruiting with his staff the next couple of weeks.
“It was quiet and it was late. It was a long flight, a lot of travel. You can’t be too excited about what happened in that game. We earned the right to play in that game, which was great, and it was the first time ever for our program. But we didn’t show well and we know it, and it hurts. It hurts to lose.
“We were kind of getting used to winning and lost the last two. We’ll have time to rest up and regroup and maybe get a little stronger here the next couple weeks, finish up school, and then get back to work and get ready to play Wisconsin, who has done nothing but win all year long.”
Richt said all the players who left the ACC title game temporarily or otherwise because of injuries sustained that night should “be 100 percent by the time we start practicing again,’’ including cornerback Trajan Bandy, who Richt indicated had an ankle injury.
Miami last played Wisconsin in the 2009 Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, losing 20-14. The series is tied at 2-2.
Poms said the Hurricanes will stay at the Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood and practice at Nova Southeastern University.
Wisconsin will stay at Trump National Doral and practice at Barry University.
“That’s a big opportunity,’’ UM defensive end Chad Thomas said of the expected Orange Bowl berth Saturday after the game. “We get to stay home and we don’t have to be in a cold place.’’
UM left tackle Kc McDermott, who has accepted an invitation to play in the 2018 East-West Shrine Game, said it “would just be unbelievable’’ to play in the OB. “A home game for us would be great.”
Sophomore linebacker Shaquille Quarterman, like the others, was asked after the loss how surprised he was at the result.
“I didn’t think it was going to end up like this at all,’’ Quarterman said. “I expected a 60-minute brawl and it just didn’t happen like that. The only thing that we really sat down and thought about is that we’re going to be back here again. We can’t go out like that. The fact that we sent our seniors out like this, it’s a bad feeling for me.
“Our seniors don’t have another shot, but we will be back — with a vengeance.’’