If there is anything that can motivate a football team, it's redemption for a beatdown in a major game. Last year's fiasco still lingers in the minds of every player who saw the field (an even some that didn't). If the Badgers can learn from their mistakes and move past them, they can be a great tool to help them defeat a Miami that shares many similarities with the Florida State team that spanked Wisconsin 42-13.
2. Living on the edge
The Wisconsin defense is at its best when the play is kept short. While it may sound obvious, what I mean is the real weak spot has been against slow developing plays. When the opposing quarterback has had time to throw the ball, bad things have happened (See second half performances: Stanzi, Ricki and Kafka, Mike). The Badger defense starts with the speed rush of O'Brien Schofield and JJ Watt. If they can get into the back field and disrupt Miami's rhythm, it could be a long day for Jacory Harris. Speaking of which ...
3. A tale of two Jacorys
Jacory Harris has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns in three games (at Virginia Tech, vs Clemson, at UNC). Miami is 9-3. Care to guess their three losses? That's right! It was at Va Tech, vs Clemson, and at UNC. Good work. The Badgers have been good at forcing turnovers this season, and with pressure coming off the ends and Chris Maragos in the middle of the field, I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Badgers flustered Jacory into a few picks. On the flip side, when given the time, Harris can carve up weak secondaries. He threw for three touchdowns in big wins over Georgia Tech, Oklahoma, and Wake Forest. As Jacory goes, so goes Miami. Keep an eye on the injured right thumb as well. If it really starts bothering Harris, the Badgers will have the opportunity to pounce early and run away with this one.
4. Speed vs Power
Is anyone else sick of hearing about speed vs. power? I am. At least in how the battle has been portrayed in recent years. If you are from the north, you are big, but slow. Not always the case. The Badger defense has a very fast front seven and several athletes in the receiving corps. The Badgers can put all that talk to bed with big performances by the linebackers. Chris Borland, media darling, has already been showered with praise (rightfully so) for his ability to cover the entire field. If the run defense can stop the speed rushing attack of Graig Cooper, Damien Berry, and Javarris James (all under 218 pounds), the defense can finally get the speed cred it deserves. On offense, there's nothing wrong with a little power, and John Clay hopes to prove just that. Power has definitely been associated with the L column in recent years. It's time for the Badgers to bring it back into style.
5. Weight of the world (or at least the Midwest)
The Badgers are the first Big Ten team to play this bowl season, and a win in the first of four big games would be huge for the collective reputation of the conference. While I'm sure it is far in the back of players minds, it will still be there. Another poor performance by the conference could keep the Badgers out of an at-large BCS next year.
This is actually a bit of a fearful prediction, because this game could go about 17 different ways. I think the Badgers' run game is slowed down early, but the defense keeps them in it and Clay eventually wears down the Miami defense to get his yards. Harris looks more like bad Jacory than good Jacory, mostly due to his new O'Brien Schofield necklace. The Badgers pull out a close one after giving up a score late.
Wisconsin 27, Miami 24
Fearless Fedie: 10-2