After more than three weeks of anticipation for a marquee matchup in the 2018 New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Wisconsin wasted no time in a blitzing start in the Bronx.Scoring 14 points in the first four minutes, the Badgers rode NCAA-leading rusher Jonathan Taylor and a stout defense to beat Miami,
After more than three weeks of anticipation for a marquee matchup in the 2018 New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Wisconsin wasted no time in a blitzing start in the Bronx.
Scoring 14 points in the first four minutes, the Badgers rode NCAA-leading rusher Jonathan Taylor and a stout defense to beat Miami, 35-3, in front of 37,821 fans at Yankee Stadium. Taylor's 205 yards rushing and touchdown earned him Most Valuable Player honors.
Wisconsin finishes the season 8-5 while Miami falls to 7-6. The Badgers have now won five straight bowl games, including two straight over the Hurricanes after defeating them in last year's Orange Bowl. The 32-point margin of victory was the largest in Pinstripe Bowl history.
"I'm just proud of the way our guys played today and prepared really throughout the bowl," Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst said. "It was a good way to finish this year."
As he has all season, Taylor featured heavily in Wisconsin's game plan. With starting quarterback Alex Hornibrook missing the game due to a concussion, he guided the Badgers and eclipsed the century mark for the 12th time this season, reaching 2,194 yards on the season.
The Doak Walker Award winner rushed for 29 yards on the first four plays from scrimmage to set up the Badgers' opening score. That made sophomore quarterback Jack Coan's job simple as he hit Kendric Pryor with a 35-yard touchdown on his first pass of the game.
Being from the area, Taylor showed his teammates around New York City during the week, including bringing some Badgers like Eric Burrell to big-name stores on 5th and 6th Avenue.
"He loved the big-time stores like Gucci and Versace," Taylor said with a laugh. "So I wanted him to get a taste of that."
Burrell repaid his teammate's hospitality with the perfect assist. Burrell intercepted Hurricanes senior quarterback Malik Rosier on the Hurricanes' first offensive play and returned the ball to Miami's 7-yard line. From there, Taylor scampered in for a score on the next play.
Just like that, it was 14-0 Wisconsin just 3:30 into the game.
Taylor had a 40-yard rush to push Wisconsin into Miami territory on its third drive, but Coan made his lone mistake of the game, tossing an interception to safety Juquan Johnson. The Hurricanes quickly broke out their patented turnover chain and would turn momentum for a short period.
Rosier struggled through the air for much of the evening, but he found success with his legs. The quick quarterback broke free for a 62-yard rush, the key play in engineering the Hurricanes' first and only score. The play put Miami in range and they soon settled for a field goal.
The Badgers kept the ball on the ground in the second quarter as their defense turned stingy, forcing two more turnovers. However, they couldn't extend their advantage. A pair of missed field goals by Rafael Gaglianone and a touchdown-negating chop block kept the score at 14-3 at the half.
"We knew we left some points on the board," Taylor said. "Going into halftime, it was just a matter of resetting, coming back together and understanding that we needed to capitalize on every opportunity we get to put these guys away."
The Badgers' resettled swiftly and broke open the game. Miami began a third-quarter drive in Wisconsin territory after a strong punt return, but Rosier was intercepted for the third time. Wisconsin's star halfback took off soon after for a 41-yard rush and served as the decoy on a 2-yard touchdown run by fullback Alec Ingold.
"I think in a game like this … the running game is the quarterback's best friend," Miami head coach Mark Richt said. "They were built for that kind of game."
Miami pulled Rosier for freshman N'Kosi Perry after his third interception. The Hurricanes were held to just 169 yards on the game and their three points are the fewest by a team in Pinstripe Bowl history. Richt accepted the blame for Miami's offensive struggles, though he heaped praise upon the Badgers, who forced five turnovers.
On Wisconsin's sideline, the victory wasn't just a homecoming for Taylor; Coan hails from Sayville, N.Y. and was amped for the opportunity to start under center. Just ask his roommate, tight end Jake Ferguson.
"We woke up this morning and he's got all this excitement I've never seen out of him and he starts shaking me," Ferguson said with a smile. "He's like, 'Let's go!' I knew right there it was gonna be a good game from him."
Coan would help put the finishing touches on the Badgers' victory with a 7-yard touchdown run of his own. That fourth touchdown drive was again preceded by a turnover, this time after Caesar Williams picked off Perry in Miami territory.
Wisconsin senior running back Taiwan Deal rushed for 52 yards and added a final touchdown with just eight seconds left in the game.
Despite Wisconsin's rushing attack, Johnson found himself with an impressive game for the Hurricanes with 10 tackles and the interception. Badgers linebackers T.J. Edwards and Chris Orr each had an interception while recording at least eight tackles. Edwards also recovered a fumble. For a defense that was shorthanded with injuries, it was a fitting end to the season.
"That's kind of been the story all year," Chryst said. "Guys stepped in, stepped up."
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