Things started out well enough for Miami. They had all the energy and momentum in the first quarter after two rushing td’s. One from Travis Homer on short yardage and the other a 39 yard run from the wildcat formation from DeeJay Dallas. There was even an appearance from the turnover chain!
It was 14-3 Miami going into the second quarter. Oh, that dreaded second quarter. That’s when things began to take a turn for the worst for the Canes. A wrong turn to the tune of 21 unanswered points from the Badgers to take a 24-14 lead into halftime.
But the big story of that second quarter, and maybe of the game, came right before halftime when Miami head coach Mark Richt very uncharacteristically lost his cool while arguing a no call that he felt should have been holding on Wisconsin. That play resulted in a big gain, and that arguing resulted in a 15 yard penalty for the Canes, which led to a Wisconsin touchdown right before half time.
Richt was so upset, that he could clearly be seen forcibly grabbing the referee by the arm during the dispute. Of course, as you know, physical contact with a referee is a big no-no and Richt is lucky he did not get thrown out of the game.
As we entered the third quarter, the Canes finally started to show some signs of life with defensive stops and a touchdown pass to Lawrence Cager that brought them back within 3 points at 24-21. Both teams traded field goals after that and by the start of the 4th quarter, Miami was still down by three, 27-24.
But Wisconsin continued to play their brand of smash mouth football and quite frankly, Miami couldn’t do a damn thing about it. The Badgers continuously ran for big chunks of yardage and found the sweet spots in Miami’s zone defense in the passing game. So much so, that they scored another touchdown to increase their lead to 34-24 halfway through the 4th.
Miami seemed like they had hope after a long pass to the speedster freshman, Jeff Thomas brought them inside the 10 yard line. But the Badger defense stifled the Canes from there, holding them to a field goal attempt. Not the worst thing in the world right? After all, it would make it a one score game and they had Michael Badgley coming in. Dude has made the most field goals in school history, and this one was a chip shot from 23 yards out. Yeah. Well, he missed that chip shot. The score remained 34-24 and any chance Miami had of making a come back in this game sailed away with that wobbly kick.
Wisconsin held the ball from there and then Rosier threw one more interception to end the game, just for good measure. All in all, this really was a disappointing way to end the season for Miami. In a year that saw them come back to national prominence, they couldn’t quite get over that final hump, losing their final 3 games of the year.
They couldn’t make anything happen on defense and did not convert a 3rd down until the 4th quarter. Tough to win a game that way, mix that with more Rosier interceptions and you get disaster.
It was a fun year with a very sour finish. Miami will have to live with this one for the next 9 months. Now, the question for this team and Mark Richt moving forward will be how do they respond to this game and how they ended this season? How will it carry over to next year, if at all? Will it have a negative or positive effect? Let’s hope it’s the latter.