Wisconsin Sacks Miami
by Dave Congrove
December 29, 2009
Wisconsin sacked Jacory Harris 5 times and John Clay had a pair of 3-yard rushing touchdowns in the first half as the Badgers won the Champs Sports Bowl 20-14 over Miami.
Wisconsin broke a 2-bowl losing streak on its 6th consecutive bowl trip to Florida. Since 2004, the Badgers have made two trips to Tampa for the Outback Bowl and four visits to Orlando for two Champs Sports Bowls and a pair of Capital One Bowls. Wisconsin is now 3-3 on those treks to the Sunshine State, but 3-1 in O-town.
The final score of this game is not a true indication of how badly Miami was badgered. Amazingly, the 'Canes still had a shot at the end of the night.
Miami's Sam Shields took a reverse from Craig Cooper on the opening kickoff and went 86 yards for a touchdown, but a block in the back put them on the Wisconsin 16-yard line. Cooper scored on the next play for a quick 7-0 lead. Very little good came to Miami for a long time after that.
Wisconsin tied the game at 7-7 with Clay's first touchdown, two plays after Scott Tolzien connected with tight end Lance Kendricks for 36 yards on 1st-and-10. Clay's second scoring run came with 8:15 left in the 2nd quarter after the Badgers' previous possession reached the Miami 31-yard line before ending on an interception.
A 37-yard field goal with 12 seconds left in the half made it 17-7.
The Badgers were about to go ahead 24-7 when Tolzien connected with tight end Garret Graham, but Graham was stripped of the ball just shy of the goal line and the Hurricanes recovered in the end zone for a touchback. Alas, Miami's good fortunes quickly turned into its 6th punt of the night.
After a sack caused a Harris fumble, the Badgers increased their lead to 20-7 on Philip Welch's second field goal with only 3:54 remaining in the game.
Then, Wisconsin called off the rush and let Miami right back in the game. With no one in his face, Harris completed 8-of-9 passes on a 79-yard drive to cut the gap to 20-14 with 1:22 left. The 'Canes recovered the onside kick, but Wisconsin restored its pressure and put Miami away with a sack and 3 incompletions.
Clay finished with 121 yards rushing and Tolzien had 260 yards passing as Wisconsin outgained Miami 430-249. Miami only had 173 yards before the late 4th quarter drive.
Cooper left the game in the 2nd quarter with a knee injury and the 'Canes finished with just 61 yards rushing.
The Badgers controlled the ball for 18:30 longer than the Hurricanes.