Wisconsin hasn’t seen the best of Miami.
The Wisconsin Badgers, Miami’s opponent in Saturday’s 2017 Orange Bowl, probably do not think the Hurricanes are very good.
Here’s why: Wisconsin left tackle Michael Deiter revealed Wednesday that his Badgers have confined their film study to Miami’s games at Florida State and Pitt and against Clemson in the ACC title game.
Miami went 1-2 in those games, getting blown out by Clemson 38-3; playing its worst game of the season in a 24-14 loss to Pitt and needing a miracle finish to edge FSU 24-20.
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“Just teams that play similar pro-style offenses to us,” Deiter said when asked about which games on Miami’s schedule his Badgers have watched most intently.
“I think those games are the best ones to know what Miami wants to do against that style of offense. … The Clemson game I’ve watched a couple of times.”
Most Canes fans would prefer to travel on a five-hour flight — sitting next to a snoring man, a crying baby and Gilbert Gottfried — as opposed to watching that Clemson game twice.
But the 10th-ranked Hurricanes (10-2), who are 6 1/2-point underdogs against the sixth-ranked Badgers (12-1), will get a chance to break their two-game losing streak, ending their season on a positive note.
Wisconsin and Miami have met just once previously in the postseason, with the stronger Badgers negating the Hurricanes’ speed in a 20-14 win in the 2009 Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando.
That will surely be Wisconsin’s strategy Saturday.
Badgers quarterback Alex Hornibrook is ordinary statistically. The redshirt sophomore, a second-year starter, leads a passing game that averages only 187 yards, ninth-best in the Big 10.
But the Wisconsin offensive line is special. Deiter, who switched from center to left tackle in the last week of spring, was a Sporting News second-team All-American. Right tackle David Edwards was an American Football Coaches first-team All-American. And right guard Beau Benzschawel was a third-team Associated Press All-American.
The last time Wisconsin had three All-American offensive linemen on the same team was 1921, and Benzschawel made it clear on Wednesday that the current Badgers will go with their strength.
“It’s everything,” he said of the battle up front, “not just to control the game but to send a message.”
Delivering that message — at least with the ball in his hands — will be freshman running back Jonathan Taylor, who leads the Big 10 with 1,847 rushing yards. He has scored 13 touchdowns and averages 6.8 yards per carry.
That run game fuels the Badgers, who lead the league in third-down conversion (48.8), rank second in time of possession (35:09, just three seconds off the top spot) and rank third in points (33.8).
The Badgers rank second in rush yards (229.0) and are tied for first in fewest sacks (1.5 per game).
Where Wisconsin is vulnerable is on turnovers, especially if Miami can thwart the run game and force Hornibrook to throw on third-and-long situations.
Wisconsin is only plus-three on turnovers, losing eight fumbles and throwing 15 interceptions.
The Hurricanes, who lead the nation with 3.58 sacks per game, would love to break out their “Turnover Chain” multiple times, and the Badgers — publicly at least — didn’t exhibit any ill will toward the City of Miami’s most famous piece of jewelry circa 2017.
“I think it’s cool, honestly,” Deiter said. “[Turnovers] are something you should glorify. I don’t know if I would call [the chain] necessary, but there’s some merit to putting hype around turnovers.”
For Miami, in order to stop Wisconsin’s ground assault on Saturday, it would seem that the turnover chain would be very necessary.