Back Canes Fall in Orange Bowl

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Canes Fall in Orange Bowl

By Carlos Pineda
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A fast start on Saturday night proved to be not enough for the Hurricanes, who finished with their third consecutive loss after starting the season with a 10-0 record.

A fast start on Saturday night proved to be not enough for the Hurricanes, who finished with their third consecutive loss after starting the season with a 10-0 record. Miami lost 34-24 in the 2017 Orange Bowl to a Wisconsin squad that finished the regular season 12-0.

Taking a 14-3 lead on a pair of touchdown runs in the first quarter, it appeared Miami was pulling away with the game. The Canes had outgained the Badgers 148-94 at that point, and their speed was on full display as Brunswick, Ga. native Deejay Dallas scored on a 39-yard run that sent the majority of the 65,032 fans in attendance into a frenzy.

Unfortunately for them, things turned sour in the second quarter. A Malik Rosier interception from his own 28 to start of the second quarter set up Wisconsin's first touchdown. Three plays after the interception, Orange Bowl MVP Alex Hornibrook found receiver Danny Davis for a 20-yard score that cut Miami's lead down to four.

The Badgers, who suffered their lone loss of the season to Ohio State in the Big Ten title game, finished the season with their first 13-win campaign in program history. Saturday's game also gave the Big Ten a 7-0 record in bowl games this year.

Wisconsin completely dominated the second quarter, outscoring Miami 21-0. The ACC Coastal Division champs were held to eight offensive plays and gained just seven yards during the period.

Near the end of the second quarter Miami coach Mark Richt was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after grabbing an official.

After a rocky start, Hornibrook settled down and became tough to contain from the second quarter on. The sophomore QB threw for 258 yards with four touchdowns as he completed over 67 percent of his passes. A.J. Taylor led all wide outs with eight catches for 105 yards and a touchdown, while Davis accounted for the other three scores.

After trailing by 10 at the half, the Hurricanes (10-3) cut the deficit to three points on their second possession of the third quarter when Rosier found Lawrence Cager for a 38-yard touchdown.

Miami appeared to have regained the momentum, but on its ensuing drive Rosier threw an interception in the end zone with 8:48 left in the third quarter. The Hurricanes never regained the lead.

It's easy to look at the results of the past three games and say it's been a disappointing season. But Miami entered the year with aspirations of winning their first division title as a member of the ACC. The Hurricanes accomplished that feat, going 7-1 in conference play and getting wins over every team that beat them in 2015 (Florida State, North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame). Miami turned many heads on its way to a 10-0 start, picking up consecutive prime time wins over the Hokies and Fighting Irish. This gave fans, naysayers and media a glimpse into what Richt has been building in a short time.

Recently, UM landed 18 of its 20 commitments and received a No. 5 from Rivals.

Miami suffered some setbacks this season, losing their top running back, tight end and receiver over the course of the season, but still had opportunities to get a win Saturday night in the Orange Bowl.

The Hurricanes can hang their hat on a 10-win season, their first since 2003, and a strong incoming recruiting class.

"This team was one of the highest-rated teams in America. This team was one step away from being in the playoffs," Richt said following the game. "They came in and took care of business.

"We don't like losing, but we're not ashamed of what happened by any stretch."

Carlos Pineda - Carlos Pineda is a featured writer for Southern Pigskin. He covered the UCF Knights football team for Florida Today in 2010. Carlos' work has been published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Miami Herald, Orlando Sentinel and Orlando Business Journal. He attended the University of Central Florida. Follow Carlos on Twitter @CarlosFPineda.