Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:45 AM EST.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Thursday, December 27th - New Yankee Stadium - Bronx, NY
5:15 PM EST. There are plenty of narratives you’re going to hear and read about here but if the Badgers go onto win and/or cover, it won’t be because they’re used to cold weather while the Hurricanes are not. The “sell” here is that a team like Miami that comes from a tropical climate will not be able to compete in the cold temperatures of the Bronx with temperatures hovering just above freezing by the time of kick-off. Wisconsin, being from a cold climate, are more acclimated to these conditions, thus the market is at least somewhat buying into the Badgers having a unique edge there. We say hogwash. It’s football and Wisky is not used to it, as games in October and November are rarely freezing and in fact, the conditions are usually perfect for football. There is no such thing as being used to playing in below freezing weather.
There is also a bit of turmoil on the Hurricanes side, again...The newest storyline for the Hurricanes is that fifth-year senior Malik Rosier will start again at quarterback. ‘Canes coach Mark Richt announced the news at a coaches’ press conference Wednesday at Yankee Stadium, although the coach said Perry was not suspended and is “available to play as of right now.” Richt said if there are any suspensions, they will be released “just prior to game time.”
The past week was fraught with quarterback news involving social media — the possible transfer of Jarren Williams, followed by his father the next day saying he had decided to stay; a report by The Miami Hurricane school newspaper regarding usual starter N’Kosi Perry’s posting of a sexually explicit video in September; a video clip of tight end Brevin Jordan telling inquisitive fans that Rosier would start in the bowl; and finally, cornerback Gilbert Frierson in a social media video that included Perry in the background saying he was suspended.
With the quarterback situation in turmoil again and other possible suspensions, the market has overreacted to that too. We’re not concerned because if there were any significant suspensions, we trust that Richt would have said so. Richt will also go with his best chance to win. It’s also worth noting that Badgers QB Alex Hornibrook was ruled out of the game late last week because of recurring concussion symptoms, and he has been replaced by 6-3, 202-pound Jack Coan, a sophomore who started three of the four games in which he played this season and threw for 442 yards (61-percent completion) with four touchdowns, with two interceptions.
Wisconsin and Miami also met last year in the Orange Bowl where the ‘Canes were defeated 34-24 by Bucky and failing to cover as a 6½-point underdog in the process. Recency bias is also fuelling the lean but let us remind you that the Hurricanes had a then great Wisconsin team by 10 points before the wheels fell off after a turnover that changed the entire landscape of that game.
Market perception plays a big part here too. Wisconsin has been a BIG beast for years and even ran the table last year outside of a final regular season loss to Ohio State in a close one (27-21). They were ranked highly to start the year and were even projected to be a contender for the College Football Playoff. The Badgers weak body of work this year is largely being overlooked because of the program’s pedigree but there is nothing to like about them. The Badgers weak year featured a home loss to a 7-6 BYU team, a 22-10 flattering loss to Penn State, a blowout loss to Michigan, a two TD loss to Northwestern and a season-ending blowout defeat (37-15) to arch-rival Minnesota that ended a 14-year winning streak for Paul Bunyan’s Axe. The Badgers wins occurred against Western Kentucky, New Mexico, Iowa, a Nebraska squad that opened the year 0-6, Illinois, Rutgers and a triple OT victory over Purdue.
Wisconsin may be here in body not spirit while Miami had to fight its way into winning its last two games at Virginia Tech and against ACC runner-up Pitt to earn the bid when they were staring 5-5 SU in the face with two weeks to go in the season. Likely more motivated, even if it’s to avenge last year’s Orange Bowl game, there are huge red flags all over the place that suggest the favorite is undervalued.
Miami started off the season ranked but also fell off the national radar with a blowout loss to LSU to kick off the campaign and then a four-game skid spanning mid-October to mid-November with road losses at Virginia, B.C., and Georgia Tech and a home defeat against Duke. Three of these contests were settled by a possession or less and could have gone Miami’s way. Miami’s defensive coordinator Manny Diaz in his last game before taking the coaching reins of Temple. He could have left to take on his new role but outwardly expressed a loyalty to his players and finishing the season together. Miami’s great defense figures to be jacked up and at its best in an attempt to send Diaz off with a win. That defense is ranked second in the country, which is not good news for a one-dimensional Badgers outfit that ranks 117th in passing offense. The Badgers won’t find any refuge against a Miami team that is the best in the country against the pass. This could very well be a game of possessions and that plays into Miami’s hand as well because that is how the ‘Canes are built to compete. The Hurricanes will score points but we’re not so sure the same can be said about the Badgers. The total of 47 seems awfully high for two teams that rely on defense but perhaps that total is trying to tell us to swallow the points.
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Miami -2½ -103 (Risking 2.06 units - To Win: 2.00)