For everything that has gone wrong for the Miami Hurricanes this season, maybe – just maybe – a bowl game win could give the program some tangible hope and reason for optimism as it heads into 2019.
Instead of doing something to build on, the bottom completely fell out from under Miami as it was dominated and embarrassed by Wisconsin Thursday night in a 35-3 rout in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl.
Wisconsin sophomore running back Jonathan Taylor – the nation’s leading rusher – ran over, around, and past the Hurricanes defense for a game-high 205 yards and a touchdown as the Badgers topped UM in a bowl game for the second straight year.
The Badgers (8-5) defeated the Hurricanes 34-24 in Hard Rock Stadium in the 2018 Orange Bowl, a game in which Taylor rushed for 130 yards, and was able to run roughshod over Miami again this year in the converted Yankees Stadium field. Taylor gashed Miami’s ballyhooed defense for runs of 39 and 41 yards while the Badgers defense forced five turnovers to help Wisconsin capture its fifth straight bowl victory.
Miami head coach Mark Richt continued to play his unfortunate game of “quarterback musical chairs” – electing to start redshirt sophomore Malik Rosier for the bowl game. Leading up to the game, redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry was under fire leading up to the bowl game because of a pair of questionable posts he made on one of his personal social media accounts, but Richt maintained that Perry was not facing or serving any suspension.
He did tell reporters that he would start Rosier because “he gives us the best chance to win”, even though it was Perry who started the previous three games, including the team’s regular season finale win over Pittsburgh.
For Richt’s faith in Rosier, Rosier in turn threw three interceptions Thursday night – including turning the ball over on his first pass of the game – while completing just 5-of-12 passes for 46 yards before being pulled from the game in the third quarter after throwing his third pick of the night.
Richt turned to a cold – literally and figuratively – Perry, who didn’t fare much better than Rosier. Perry was just 1-of-5 for 2 yards and threw an interception.
It appeared that Richt would turn to freshman quarterback Jarren Williams, who made news days before the Pinstripe Bowl when reports came out that he intended to transfer from Miami because he was unhappy with his lack of playing time, in the waning minutes of the game but the Badgers were able to go on a 7-minute, 10-play, 53-yard touchdown drive to push its final lead to 35-3 with just eight seconds left on the clock.
Miami’s offense as a whole was once again subpar.
For much of the season, Hurricanes fans have taken Richt to task for his vanilla, uninspired play-calling. Since taking the Miami job, Richt said he would take on play-calling responsibilities – a duty he relinquished in his final years at Georgia – but his stubbornness to run a pro-style offense without the requisite personnel has left Miami’s offense in an anemic state.
The Hurricanes only produced 169 total yards of offense Thursday against the Badgers and Richt’s play calls became so predictable that the ESPN game announcers began to comment on how unimaginative the offense looked and how ineffective the plays were.
Rosier was the team’s leading rusher with 90 yards on three carries, while junior running back Travis Homer – who came into the bowl game just 42 yards shy of reaching the 1,000-yard mark – finished with just 16 yards on 10 attempts. DeeJay Dallas had just 8 yards on four carries.
Receiver Lawrence Cager had one catch for a team-high 22 yards, freshman tight end Brevin Jordan had a pair of catches for 12 yards.
“Things have got to get fixed,” Richt said. “That will be the No. 1 priority”.