Written by Derek Robbie
​Miami Gardens, FL – Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook’s MVP performance of four TDs and 248 yards passing helped lead the Badgers to 34-24 win over the Miami Hurricanes as they were crowned 2017 Capitol One Orange Bowl Champions. Miami quarterback Malik Rosier had a more than forgettable night, throwing 3 interceptions that would prove costly in the back and forth affair.

Wisconsin started out by piecing together a nice drive until the Canes forced Badgers’ running back Jonathan Taylor to fumble. Miami’s Dee Delaney fell on the ball for the U, bringing out the turnover chain for the first time in the game.

Miami drove down the field after the forced fumble. However, they had to settle with a field goal. Kicker Michael Badgley attempted a 53-yard field goal that was well wide right of the uprights.

The Badgers capitalized on Badgley’s missed field goal by driving down and hitting one of their own from 35-yards out. Rafael Gaglianone gave Wisconsin a 3-0 lead with eight minutes left in the first quarter.

On the Hurricanes ensuing possession, they put together a quick six-play drive that resulted in a five-yard rushing touchdown up the gut from running back Travis Homer. This gave Miami a 7-3 lead with 5:21 left in the first quarter. Wisconsin seemed to struggle with the pace of Miami’s offense early, and that continued after a quick 3 and out from the Badgers offense.

After a Badger’s 39-yard punt that originated from their own 6-yard line, Miami wasted little time their next drive. On the second play of the drive, running back Deejay Dallas broke free for a 39-yard touchdown run to add to the Canes lead. 14-3 was the score with just under three minutes remaining in the first quarter.

After another Wisconsin punt, momentum looked to be clearly in favor of the Canes. That would not last though, as Rosier threw an interception on the second play of the drive. Rosier attempted a screen pass to his favorite target, wide receiver Braxton Berrios. Wisconsin outside linebacker, Andrew Van Ginkel read the play well and jumped the route to pick Rosier off.

Van Ginkel’s interception put Wisconsin on the 28-yard line. Only three plays later, quarterback Alex Hornibrook threw a fade to receiver Danny Davis III for a 20-yard score. Davis put the Badgers right back into the game making the score 14-10 in favor of Miami with 13:37 left in the first half.

As momentum clearly shifted in favor of the Badgers, the Canes saw their first 3 and out on offense of the night.  The Badgers took advantage of the swing as they went on a methodical 12 play 71-yard drive that saw Hornibrook connect with wide receiver A.J. Taylor on a fade pass for a 16-yard touchdown. Taylor’s TD gave his side a 17-14 lead with just under six minutes left in the second quarter.

With momentum clearly in the hands of the Badgers, the Canes then suffered a 2nd straight 3 and out. Wisconsin would then extended their lead just before the end of the first half with Hornibrook connecting with Danny Davis III across the middle. The Badgers’ lead jumped to 24-14 with just 28 seconds left in the half. The Canes defense was clearly gassed after spending 21 minutes and 20 seconds on the field in the first half.

“Well obviously we started out with the momentum and then after that interception, they kind of gained momentum going into the half,” said Miami left tackle KC McDermott about the momentum swings. “We got it right back around the mid-third quarter and the somehow, they returned it… It’s something that I hope the young guys learn. It’s hard but at the same time it is what it is and it’s time to move on.”

After the half, the Canes defense was rejuvenated and forced a 3 and out on the Badgers first possession of the 2nd half. Then on the Canes ensuing possession, Rosier found receiver Lawrence Cager wide open in the middle of the field for a 38-yard touchdown on the 2nd play of the drive. This cut Wisconsin’s lead to just three with 10:52 remaining in the third quarter.

A second straight 3 and out from the Badger offense to start the 3rd quarter looked to have the Canes in full control once again of the momentum. However, on their next drive, Rosier tried to force a throw to the end zone, which was picked off by South Florida local, Derrick Tindal for the Badgers. Tindal’s interception ultimately resulted in a 47-yard field goal from Gaglianone which put the Badgers up 27-21 with 3:39 left in the third quarter.

The next scoring play didn’t come until the middle of the fourth quarter on a 41-yard field goal from Miami’s Badgley, which decreased the lead to 27-24 with 11:30 left on the game clock.

The Badgers answered with a touchdown from Hornibrook to Davis III for the third time on the night. The lethal connection gave Hornibrook his fourth touchdown pass of the night, nearly ensuring he would get the Orange Bowl MVP if the Badgers held the lead. Davis III’s score gave his team a ten-point lead with under eight minutes in the game.

The Hurricanes thought they answered Davis III’s touchdown with a 24-yard chip shot field goal from Badgley, but unfortunately for Miami and their fans he hit the upright. This kept the Badgers on top 34-24 with just 4:34 left in regulation.

Once Badgley missed the short field goal it looked as if it took the fight out of the Miami players. However, after the Canes defense was able to get the ball back to the offense with 1:37 left to play, they had one last shot.

Then after 2 consecutive incomplete passes to start the drive, Rosier would be picked off for a third time. This one coming by Badger inside linebacker Ryan Connelly to seal Wisconsin’s 34-24 victory over the Canes.

“Well, truly proud of what this team did tonight and all year long,” said Wisconsin Head Coach Paul Chryst said about the Orange Bowl victory. “I think the best part of tonight was a reflection of what it’s been all year, and it’s a great team victory. It takes everyone, and I thought everyone contributed. Proud of what this team did.”

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