The Sports Xchange
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The Wisconsin Badgers seniors went out with more wins than any other class in school history.
But on Saturday night in the annual Orange Bowl Classic, it was the underclassmen who stole the show.
Sophomore Alex Hornibrook passed for a career-high-tying four touchdowns to lead the No. 6 Wisconsin Badgers to a 34-24 win over the No. 10 Miami Hurricanes at Hard Rock Stadium.
Freshman Danny Davis, who had scored just twice this season entering Saturday, caught three of the touchdown passes, and junior outside linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel had an interception that changed the momentum of the game.
“Our defense has been doing that all year,” Hornibrook said of Van Ginkel’s play that sparked a rally from a 14-3 deficit. “I don’t know if it’s wrong or not, but every time we’re on defense, I expect an interception.”
Hornibrook didn’t throw any interceptions against the “Turnover Chain” Miami defense that was surely hunting for picks.
The Wisconsin second-year starter completed 23-of-34 passes for a season-best 258 yards as the Badgers (13-1) completed the first 13-win season in program history.
This senior class set a Wisconsin record with 45 wins, getting double-figure victories four years in a row.
Meanwhile, Miami (10-3), after ranking as high as No. 2 in the nation earlier in the season, closed the year with three consecutive losses.
Hurricanes quarterback Malik Rosier passed for 203 yards and one touchdown and also ran for 41 yards. But he threw three costly interceptions.
“They did a really good job of making me throw into tight coverage,” Rosier said. “They were fast. They were physical. And they did a great job of making me throw low-percentage passes.”
Miami led 14-3 after the first quarter. After a 35-yard field goal by Wisconsin’s Rafael Gaglianone, Miami took a 7-3 lead on Travis Homer’s 5-yard touchdown run.
The Hurricanes got a 39-yard touchdown run by DeeJay Dallas, who took a direct snap and ran around right end and picked up a key block from Rosier.
Wisconsin changed the momentum in the second quarter, and it began with an interception at the line of scrimmage by Van Ginkel, a 6-4 outside linebacker who jumped up on the right side and picked off a Rosier pass at the Miami 23.
“(Miami left tackle Kc McDermott) tried to cut (block Van Ginkel),” Rosier said. “(Van Ginkel) did a great job of using his hands. He got his hands up, and the ball hit him.”
Van Ginkel’s interception led to a 20-yard touchdown pass to Davis, who caught the back-shoulder throw just inside the right sideline and stretched out to reach the pylon.
Hornibrook added a 16-yard pass to A.J. Taylor and a 5-yarder to Davis to give the Badgers a 24-14 halftime lead.
Miami cut its deficit to 24-21 on a 38-yard touchdown pass from Rosier to Lawrence Cager. On the play, Rosier drew defenders toward him when he scrambled to his right, allowing Cager to slip behind the defense.
The teams exchanged field goals — 47 yards by Gaglianone and 41 yards by Michael Badgley — leaving Wisconsin with a 27-24 lead with 11:34 left in the fourth quarter. With his field goal, Badgley set a Miami career scoring record with 402 points.
Wisconsin extended its lead to 34-24 on a 6-yard toss from Hornibrook to Davis, and Miami blew a chance to close within one score when Badgley missed a 24-yard field-goal try off the right goalpost with 4:34 left in the fourth quarter.
Badgley also missed a 53-yarder in the first quarter.
Predictably, the two head coaches were in different moods after the game.
Miami’s Mark Richt complained about the officiating.
“I don’t agree with a lot of the things that were called or not called,” he said.
On the other side, Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst expressed pride.
“It takes everyone,” Chryst said. “And I think everyone contributed.”
BADGER BITS: In the first half, Badgers RB Jonathan Taylor passed Adrian Peterson for the NCAA single-season rushing record by a freshman. ... Miami QB Malik Rosier finished the season with a program-record 31 touchdowns this year — 26 passing and five rushing. Vinny Testaverde had set the previous record in 1986, when he won the Heisman Trophy. ... Wisconsin OLB Leon Jacobs set a Football Bowl Subdivision mark by playing in his 59th consecutive game. Badgers S Joe Ferguson played in his 58th game, which ranks second on the list. ... Miami was without its top three offensive playmakers: RB Mark Walton, WR Ahmmon Richards and TE Chris Herndon, all out with injuries.