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New Era Pinstripe Bowl Preview

As long as it’s published before kickoff, it’s still technically a preview!

The 2018 New Era Pinstripe Bowl is a “rematch” between the Miami Hurricanes and the Wisconsin Badgers, two teams who met in the totally-not-a-home-game-for-Miami Orange Bowl at the end of the 2017-18 season. After that game, Miami finished the season ranked 12 in the AP Poll while Wisconsin was up at 7. This season, Miami started the season at 11 in the AP Poll with Wisconsin somehow being ranked 5th (remember that?!?).

And how did the 2018 season go for these two teams? Well, they’re playing in the g-d Yankees-worship Bowl, multiple days before New Years Eve, outdoors, North of the Mason-Dixon line.

2018 New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Miami Hurricanes (7-5) vs. Wisconsin Badgers (7-5)

Betting Line: Miami -2.5 (as of 10:15 a.m.)

The Deets: 5:15 p.m. EST, ESPN Broadcast; Yankee Stadium

Key Stats: 40 degree Fahrenheit at game time; Yankee Stadium is outdoors

Both of these teams were massive disappointments based on preseason expectations, with both starting in the top 12 of the AP Poll and neither making an appearance on any list or ranking of any kind other than a “Most disappointing teams of 2018” or “Teams whose failures in 2018 made the OTE readership the most sad :’( during 2018” or “Teams who are playing in bowl games on 12/17/18.”

Despite losing to embarrassments like UVA, Georgia Tech, BYU, and Minnesota, each of these teams managed to excel in certain areas. Miami features the 7th-ranked (by S&P+) defense in the country, including the best pass ypg defense, 2nd-best total ypg defense, and the best—and insane—in the country 23.7% 3rd-down conversion rate. What’s that? You want more Miami defense porn? They led FBS in havoc rate (a rate that, uh, measures how much havoc your defense creates, I think) and tackles for loss, with 126. They also recorded the 14th-most sacks and allowed the third-fewest yards per play.

Wisconsin, on the other hand, features the 13th-ranked S&P+ offense, carried by the best running back in the country, Jonathan Taylor, and one of the best, if not the best, run blocking offensive lines in FBS. Taylor rushed for nearly 2,000 yards, scored some TDs, and continued his career as a home run threat and a guy who will probably get you 6+ yards on first down. There aren’t as many fun stats to throw at you re: Wisconsin on offense, but trust me, they run the ball very well.

Neither team could throw the ball at all (Wisconsin ranked 80th in S&P+ passing, and Miami was somehow even worse, ranking 112th), and that likely won’t change in the Pinstripe Bowl for a couple reasons. (1) Miami’s pass defense is really good, (2) it’s gonna be cold, and (3) neither team’s starting quarterback is going to be the guy you’d expect...I guess.

Alex Hornibrook is out for this game and, in my not-at-all-medical opinion, may be done for his career. He suffered two concussions in three weeks and looked totally lost against Minnesota and whenever else he has played since the first concussion. Instead, mostly-untested Jack Coan will be starting against the best passing defense Wisconsin has faced all season; yes, Miami’s defense was even better than Michigan’s against the pass.

Miami’s head coach, ol’ Mark whatshisname, the former Georgia guy who could never get over the hump and brought his great recruiting, not-as-good coaching style to Miami, made the decision to start oft-backup Malik Rosier for the bowl game. Wisconsin fans, who is everyone at OTE, might remember Rosier as the guy who completed just 42% of his passes and threw three picks against Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl last year, and it sounds like his not-greatness remains. As State of the U writer Cameron J. Underwood said in his preview interview with Bucky’s 5th Quarter, “I thought Miami could pull one out, but the move back to Malik Rosier removed that thought from my brain.”

So how is this game going to go? Well, if you like lots of passes that travel zero yards and end up in the hands of a running back, you’re going to love this game! Coan showed he can sling it pretty well against Purdue, but, well, Purdue’s defense isn’t Miami’s defense. Wisconsin has the size on the O Line to run the ball against Miami over and over and over, and that’s good, because that’s what’s going to happen. Miami under Richt is also going to run the ball first and foremost. Where it gets interesting is if Rosier decides it’s time he made some plays and tries to win the game himself. If that happens...Wisconsin shouldn’t be too worried. As we established, Miami also can’t, and doesn’t, throw the ball. Likewise, we’ve all seen and mourned what happens to the Wisconsin offense if they get into third and long situations, and unless Coan turns in a 2017 Orange Bowl Hornibrook-like performance, it’s going to be ugly.

Beez: This is not a team I really want to watch, and thankfully, the game starts in the middle of the afternoon on a workday! Plus, since it’s the end of the calendar year, I’ll be at work a little late to make up for the hours I spent slacking so I could “write” for OTE. I think Wisconsin loses, beaten by their own recent strategy of hoping the defense keeps you in the game so you can accidentally score some points. But I also think every game we get to watch Jonathan Taylor is a special treat and he’ll be sorely missed (or not. See, e.g., Montee Ball, Melvin Gordon III, James White, etc...) once he declares early following next season so some foolish NFL team can draft him in the top 15.

MC ClapYoHandz: Like many sequels this one is bound to disappoint. Last year featured two Top 10 teams, Alex Hornibrook was actually incredible, the Turnover Chain was a thing people cared about way too much, and Wisconsin was able to overcome Miami somehow getting to play in their home stadium for the win. This year serves as a de facto championship for Most Disappointing Team, Alex Hornibrook isn’t even playing, and if the Turnover Chain is still a thing that’d be sad. Miami still has a good defense at least, and since they know Jonathan Taylor is getting the ball 35 times in a vanilla offense, this one feels like a bit of an uphill climb for the Badgers. Fortunately it will be somewhat cold by Miami standards, and any time a southern team has to travel north in the winter it warms my sassy heart. It took a really high standard of play to win this game last year and Wisconsin hasn’t shown they can pull that off this year. I don’t see that changing for this one, but like the rest of OTE I hope I’m wrong.

Oh right, the turnover chain. I don’t know if that’s a thing this year, but the jif of Paul Chryst insulting it will always be a thing.


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