U.S. Markets open in 3 hrs 47 mins

Orange Bowl: Miami and Wisconsin boast two of the nation's best defenses

Jonathan Taylor has a chance to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark Saturday night.. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

Capital One Orange Bowl
Wisconsin (12-1) vs. Miami (11-2)
8 p.m. ET Dec. 30, Miami (ESPN)
Wisconsin -5.5, O/U 45.5

HOW THEY GOT HERE

Wisconsin: The Badgers had a College Football Playoff berth lined up heading into the Big Ten Championship Game. All they had to do was win the conference title and a spot in the final four was theirs. Whoops. Ohio State ruined Wisconsin’s undefeated season and dropped the Badgers to this game. Wisconsin got left out of the final four with one loss because of a weak strength of schedule. The playoff committee was clearly not impressed with Wisconsin until other teams started losing. That worked to the Badgers’ advantage late in the season until a loss of their own.

Miami: The Hurricanes were in a similar scenario in the ACC Championship Game. If Miami took down Clemson, the Hurricanes were heading to the College Football Playoff. While Wisconsin’s loss to Ohio State was close, Miami’s loss to Clemson was not. The Hurricanes were blown out 38-3.

It was the second-straight loss for the Hurricanes, who entered the last week of the regular season undefeated. But Miami fell 24-14 to Pitt on the Friday after Thanksgiving, a loss that felt very familiar to West Virginia’s final-week loss to the Panthers in 2007. All the good vibes Miami had after beating Virginia Tech and Notre Dame in consecutive weeks disappeared quite quickly at the end of the season.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin: The freshman running back is going to be a Heisman favorite entering the 2018 season. Taylor has 273 carries for 1,847 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2017. He’s got a great chance to surpass 300 carries and 2,000 yards on Saturday night. Taylor has rushed for over 100 yards in nine of Wisconsin’s 13 games and ran for over 200 yards in back-to-back games earlier in the season against Nebraska and Purdue.

Quarterback Malik Rosier (12) of the Miami NCAA college football team throws as the team practiced in Davie, Fla., Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017, for the Orange Bowl to be played against Wisconsin on Dec. 30. (AP Photo/Joe Skipper)

Malik Rosier, QB, Miami: Rosier struggled in Miami’s two losses. And he’s going to need to excel against a stout Wisconsin defense, if only because Miami’s offense is depleted. Running back Travis Homer has rushed for 900 yards in place of injured star running back Mark Walton, so the Hurricanes will have to lean on him. Rosier’s top weapon in the pass game is Braxton Berrios, who has caught nine touchdowns. Behind him, depth is an issue because wide receiver Ahmmon Richards (24 catches for 439 yards) and tight end Christopher Herndon (40 for 477) are both out with knee injuries.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH

If you’re a defensive fanatic, this is the bowl game for you. Miami’s rush defense gives up just 3.5 yards a carry and will pose a stiff test for Taylor. Wisconsin’s rush defense is even better and allows less than three yards a carry. Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook’s 15 interceptions have come across 10 games. There’s a pretty good chance he’ll throw one to a turnover chain-loving Miami defense that’s forced 17 interceptions.

WHAT’S ON THE LINE

Miami is playing in its second-straight bowl in the state of Florida and looking for a two-game bowl win streak after breaking a bowl losing streak that dated back to the 2006 MPC Computers Bowl a year ago. The Hurricanes haven’t played in the Orange Bowl since winning the game after the 2003 season and this time its in the Hurricanes’ home stadium. Wisconsin is looking for a fourth-straight bowl win and is making its second-straight New Year’s Six bowl appearance. Crazily enough, it’s the first time the Badgers have played in the Orange Bowl.

PREDICTIONS

Nick: Wisconsin 17, Miami 13
Sam: Wisconsin 27, Miami 23

More on Yahoo Sports: 


– – – – – – –

Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!