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Wisconsin Badgers vs. Miami Hurricanes Point Spread - Pick

Wisconsin Badgers (12-1 SU, 8-5 ATS) vs. Miami Hurricanes (10-2 SU, 5-7 ATS)
Orange Bowl
Date/Time: Saturday, December 30, 2017 at 8PM EST
Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, Florida
TV: ESPN

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: WIS -6/MIA +6
Over/Under Total: 45

The Wisconsin Badgers take on the Miami Hurricanes on December 30 in the Orange Bowl. It's a battle of two teams who finished outside the CFP, but had successful seasons nonetheless and look to finish the season with a huge-bowl win at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. In their last game, Wisconsin suffered their only loss of the season, losing to the Ohio State Buckeyes, 27-21, on the 2nd of December. Miami, meanwhile, also last played on the 2nd, losing to Clemson, 38-3. Which team can shake off the disappointment on how the season ended? Let's see what we can come up with in this Orange Bowl betting prediction.

Wisconsin was on their way to a special season. A lack of quality opposition on their record made it hard to break through, but they were unbeaten and a nice win over Michigan put them in the mix, with it all coming down to the Ohio St. game and after a fast Buckeyes start, the Badgers couldn't quite climb back into it. The 6-point loss is their only setback of the season. At the end of the day, they still do a lot of things that can trouble Miami, namely run the ball really well, in addition to playing really good defense. We'll see if they show up on Saturday with this formula for success.

At the end of the day, the lack of explosive potential on the Wisconsin offense turned out to be a major drawback. It worked until they faced Ohio State, but the aerial game wasn't quite up-to-par. Alex Hornibrook is a good quarterback, but lacks some tools and had a less-than-scintillating 21 touchdowns with 15 picks. They have a good TE in Troy Fumagalli, with talented receivers like AJ Taylor and Danny Davis. But the heavy-lifting on this side of the ball is done on the ground, with Jonathan Taylor leading the way with a big 1847 yards and 13 touchdowns.

The Wisconsin defense was their saving grace this season. They offer great balance, as they were ranked 4th against the pass and first in the nation against the run in 2017. They allowed an average of just 13.2 points a game on the season. And in allowing a reasonable 27 points to Ohio State, they gave up their season-high in points, which also says a lot. It's not all that hard to picture this group thriving against Miami in this game. Paul Chryst and his staff have really gotten this unit into shape. And they make plays, having scored 6 touchdowns this season. Alec James, Garrett Dooley, and Andrew Van Dinkel have gotten after the passer, with TJ Edwards, Leon Jacobs, and Joe Ferguson making a lot happen in the back.

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Miami didn't end the season with much juice, dropping their last two to take some steam off their 10-0 start. A bizarre loss to Pittsburgh made it really tough on them, but they had a chance to atone for that in the ACC title game against Clemson, where they fell woefully short. It wasn't the finish they were looking for, but Miami accomplished something big this season and that was to make their program a national factor once again and they succeeded in doing that. Their balance and dependable style of play got them to 10-0, but the fact that they don't do anything terribly well also cost them when the stakes got really high. We'll see how it translates against Wisconsin.

The Miami offense didn't finish the season well and that stands as a major concern in this matchup, facing a tip-top Wisconsin defense after ending the season with 17 combined points of scoring in their last two games. Injuries on offense didn't help, with a big chunk of their aerial offensive attack not making it to the end of the season. The other side of the ball also sagged at the end of the season and Miami was just not able to peak at the right time. Still, a ten-win season isn't bad and they look to add a nice cherry on top in the Orange Bowl. And let's face it—getting a bowl-spot in your home-stadium isn't a bad deal.

The Miami offense faces a really tough matchup in this game. With Ammmon Richards and Christopher Herndon, IV. out, that's a big chunk of their passing-production. Braxton Berrios is their main remaining weapon, with some other targets needing to step up in this matchup. QB Malik Rosier had a good season, with 25 touchdown passes and nearly 3000 yards passing. He is also useful with his feet and ran in five scores. RB Travis Homer has done well this season with 907 yards on the ground, while being a decent aerial target, as well. It's not a lot of horsepower and they face a really tough defense in this game.

With the prospects of the Miami offense scoring a lot of points not being too rosy, the Hurricanes will be depending on their defense big in this game. They've been pretty adept this season more often than not and they've given up less than 20 points on average this season. Up-front, Joe Jackson and Trent Harris have been adept at getting after the quarterback. Jaquan Johnson and Michael Jackson both have four picks, while linebackers Michael Pinckney and Shaquille Quarterman have been very impactful this season.

Miami would certainly like to finish the season with a big win over a quality team that wasn't so far from making something really special happen this season. The 'Canes are at home and maybe less-deflated about being in this spot than a Badgers team that was 6 points from an unbeaten season and a spot in the College Football Playoff. I just see the Miami offense not having the firepower to put up many points on this "D," as the Badgers get some separation to cover the spread in the Orange Bowl.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Wisconsin Badgers minus 6 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and betting the Orange Bowl from home at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!

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