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Who owns the edge? UM-Wisconsin

ORLANDO -- Here is the breakdown before Tuesday night's Champs Sports Bowl at the Citrus Bowl. 

Jacory Harris QUARTERBACK
Before you dismiss the Badgers as a running team, know that Wisconsin's Scott Tolzien has a slightly higher quarterback efficiency rating (142.44) than UM's Jacory Harris (141.56). The difference here is Harris (3,164 yards, 23 TDs, 17 INTs) has had to win more games with his arm than Tolzien (2,445 yards, 16 TDs, 10 INTs) and has four fourth-quarter come-from-behind wins in two seasons. Edge: Miami

RUNNING BACKS
All-Big Ten Conference Offensive Player of the Year John Clay ran for 1,396 yards with 16 touchdowns on 265 carries to pace a Wisconsin offense that ranked 14th in the country in rushing (206 yards per game). The difference here is depth. UM averages 144 yards a game on the ground, but has three capable backs in Graig Cooper, Damien Berry and Javarris James. Ech have run for at least 150 yards in a game this season. They also haven't lost a fumble all season. Edge: Miami

RECEIVERS
Sophomore receiver Nick Toon, the son of former Jets receiver Al Toon, and All-Big Ten senior tight end Garrett Graham (45 catches, 547 yards, 7 TDs) have more catches than anybody on the Canes' roster. But what UM has that the Badgers don't is depth. Leonard Hankerson (44 catches, 773 yards, 6 TDs) has been the most consistent of the 10 UM receivers with double-digit receptions. Edge: Miami

OFFENSIVE LINE
This one really isn't close. UM has given up more sacks (30) than Wisconsin (22) and is without starting left tackle and All-ACC First Team selection Jason Fox (knee surgery). All-Big Ten selections John Moffitt and Gabe Carimi anchor the Badgers veteran offensive line. Edge: Wisconsin

O'Brien Schofield DEFENSIVE LINE
Wisconsin's O'Brien Schofield (10 sacks, 22½ tackles for loss) and UM's Allen Bailey (7 sacks, 11 tackles for loss) are all-conference first team selections and among the best in the country at creating havoc in the backfield. But collectively, the Badgers are simply better at getting to the quarterback (32 sacks) than the Hurricanes (23 sacks) who at times have let opposing passers sit comfortably and untouched for long stretches of time. Edge: Wisconsin

LINEBACKERS
The Hurricanes improved against the run this season -- moving up from 70th to 28th nationally (118.33 yards per game). Both Colin McCarthy (88 tackles, 9½ TFL) and Darryl Sharpton (91 tackles, 7 TFL) had stellar seasons while former ACC Freshman of the Year Sean Spence battled injury. But Wisconsin, led by Big Ten Freshman of the Year Chris Borland and senior Jaevery McFadden (Riviera Beach, Fla.), has the eighth-ranked run defense in the country (90.5 ypg). The Badgers also have more depth. Edge: Wisconsin

SECONDARY
All-American cornerback Brandon Harris had a stellar sophomore season for UM with 16 pass deflections and two interceptions. Wisconsin, led by free safety Chris Maragos (44 tackles, 4 INTs), have more picks (15) than the Canes (eight). But the difference here is UM gives up fewer TD passes (14) and less yardage (203 ypg) than the Badgers (220 yards, 20 TDs) on most nights. Wisconsin has given up 270 yards through the air five times season. Edge: Miami

SPECIAL TEAMS
With All-ACC First Team selection Matt Bosher it's easy to think the Hurricanes might own this category. But Wisconsin can be dangerous here. The Badgers have blocked a field goal, blocked two punts and returned them for touchdowns, and scored on a fake field goal this season. Badgers punter Brad Norman averages 42.3 yards a punt -- close to what Bosher does (42.7). But where the Canes own the edge is field goals, where Bosher (14 of 16) has been more consistent than UW's Phillip Welch (15 of 22), who does have a long of 57 yards this season. Edge: Miami

PREDICTION
This is going to be another tough, hard fought game for the Canes who are basically taking on a better version of the North Carolina Tar Heels. Wisconsin is physical and can create turnovers and loves to run the football. Sound like Carolina? The difference here is I don't think the Hurricanes will turn it over in this game. UM coach Randy Shannon said Monday he's been stressing all week about winning the turnover battle and protecting the football. I think in the end, UM makes enough stops on Clay and the Wisconsin running game to force the Badgers to throw the football more than they want to and Orlando Franklin has another great game at left tackle. I'm going with UM 34, Wisconsin 24.

Comments

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Blocking, tackling and effort win games. Did you see the UM players shivering on the sidelines? I did and I bet the Badger players did too. My pregame pick of 17-14 UW was almost right on.

Manny,

You had a very good, fair analysis of the matchups. Although Miami won the turnover battle, the fumble recovery by the Badgers on the strip of Jacory Harris led to the deciding field goal. Fortunately for the Badgers, they got the ball back after the Garrett Graham fumble.

Although I'm thrilled with the Badgers' victory, I was impressed with the class and sportsmanship of Coach Shannon when he broke up a "jawing" match between one of his linebackers and a Badger player near the end of the game. He really earned my respect. Hopefully, the Badgers and Hurricanes will play again in a BCS game in the next year or two.

Found this link on ESPN. Miami fans are hilarious. The edge in running backs, when Wisky came in with the Big 10 offensive player of the year, John Clay? Give me a break. Wisky turned it over a couple times, lost one at the end zone even, and still dominated 57 minutes of this game. UM is lucky they weren't blown out by 30+. ACC is sucking it up in the bowl games thusfar, other than beating almighty Kentucky... that's something to be... proud of... I guess?

Found this link on ESPN. Miami fans are hilarious. The edge in running backs, when Wisky came in with the Big 10 offensive player of the year, John Clay? Give me a break. Wisky turned it over a couple times, lost one at the end zone even, and still dominated 57 minutes of this game. UM is lucky they weren't blown out by 30+. ACC is sucking it up in the bowl games thusfar, other than beating almighty Kentucky... that's something to be... proud of... I guess?

A lot of delusional fans on this board. Did you really think you were going to score 40-50 points on our defense? Come on. It looks like all that speed ain't worth much after you get hit in the mouth a couple times. And how do you give the RB advantage to Miami? Have you seen a UW game this year? Between Clay, Ball and Brown, thats one of the best backfields in the country and we made you guys look silly last night. Your just lucky UW still hasn't figured out how to close out games or this would have gotten ugly.

It's a home run or nothing for the Canes. If the Canes don't hit a few home runs early, they do not have the DNA for a grind it out slugfest. Badgers hit singles and doubles and control the clock. The Badgers will recruit in FL for speed, I reccomend the Canes come to WI for linemen. That O-line needs a lot of help plus they were wearing long sleaves! Toughen up boys!

I like Randy Shannon; holds them accountable doesn't tolerate past Cane's non-sense although the excessive celebration penalty was well deserved. Did you see Clay, scores a TD and hands the ball to the ref! Class! Hopefully, the Canes are succeeding in the classroom! They are in Madison! That's what college football should be about.

Jonny Badger

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