Badger of Honor will have an official Orange Bowl prediction for Wisconsin football on Friday, but until then, here is a quartet of “bold” predictions
The Orange Bowl is a big enough deal that all Wisconsin football fans should be tuning in. Plus, the game kicks on December 30th so it doesn’t conflict with your New Year’s plans.
Nonetheless, lets try and give you something special to look for in the big bowl match up between the host Hurricanes and your Badgers. Read on for our four bold predictions for the game.
1. Both teams will score a non-offensive touchdown
REASONING: Miami especially and Wisconsin as well have good physical defenses that thrive on turnovers. The Badgers scored a defensive touchdown in the Big Ten title game. For the season, Wisconsin has scored six non-offensive touchdowns (five interceptions and a punt return). So I think the Badgers will get another Pick6 or maybe Nick Nelson gets loose on a punt return with the Hurricanes backed up in their own end.
Meanwhile, Wisconsin football partisans are well acclimated to some unsightly Badger turnovers. And the Hurricanes have made quite a living feasting on opposing offensive mistakes. So it’s not a stretch to think that both teams could convert a big play on defense into points.
2. Jonathan Taylor rushes for over 200 yards and at least two touchdowns
REASONING: He’s really good at running the football. But more specifically, I think he is refreshed with the extra rest before the bowl game. So that makes me think he’ll be capable of exploding for some big runs.
Especially if Miami sells out completely to stop him. I could envision Taylor picking his way through a hole and nobody home for the Hurricanes at the second level when the first defensive wave doesn’t stop him.
For the season, Miami is allowing 146.1 yards per game on the ground. So I think this qualifies as bold even though Taylor is a 2018 Heisman contender.
3. Rachid Ibrahim scores his first touchdown as a Badger
REASONING: The Pittsburgh transfer has had a quiet season thus far. He has carried the ball 27 times for 129 yards. Ibrahim has caught six passes for 67 yards with a long gain of 16. So why am I calling for him to reach the paint against Miami?
The Hurricanes have a hyper aggressive fast defense. I think you hurt defenses like that with lots of misdirection. So I’m calling for Wisconsin to dial up a well timed screen pass opposite a Miami blitz and Ibrahim scores.
Notably, two screen passes to Ibrahim have been picked off this season, so maybe we end up closer to bold prediction #1 unfortunately.
4. Nick Nelson gets his first interception as a Wisconsin Badger
REASONING: I predicted this in some game predictions for several weeks this season and it didn’t happen. The ball hit him in the hands in a few games this year and it simply hasn’t happened. But I’m going down swinging in 2017. After all, this could be Nelson’s final game in the cardinal and white. So yes, I think Nick Nelson finally gets his first interception of the year. His just desserts after a superlative season in the secondary for Wisconsin Badger football.