Everybody saw Miami coach Mark Richt lose his trademark cool late in the first half of the Orange Bowl in a 34-24 loss to No. 10 Wisconsin at Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday.
Richt grabbed an official after a missed holding call and was given a personal foul that set up a Badgers' touchdown shortly before halftime. ESPN sideline reporter Molly McGrath asked Richt about the incident, and he said, “If you watch the tape, you'll see.”
We saw the missed holding call, but that tape will show even more that suggests the Hurricanes' three-game losing streak to end the season wasn't a fluke. Wisconsin has been on this stage many times, and it showed.
No. 10 Miami? The Hurricanes are closing in, but not quite there yet. That showed even more in the second half: Malik Rosier threw three costly interceptions. Michael Badgley missed a 24-yard field goal. The Hurricanes converted just two third downs attempts.
The Hurricanes showed flashes. The first 12 minutes of the Orange Bowl looked like an extension of the year-long party Miami hosted at home en route to a 10-0 start. The “turnover chain” came out on the game's first drive after a Wisconsin fumble. Miami scored twice and jumped out to a 14-3 lead. This looked like the next program-building victory for Richt in a bowl "The U" made famous so many times in the 1980s and '90s.
Simply put, Wisconsin spoiled the party. The Badgers responded with a 21-0 run and three touchdown passes from Alex Hornibrook. Jonathan Taylor had 16 carries for 85 of his 130 rushing yards by halftime, and A.J. Taylor and Danny Davis combined for three touchdown catches. The Badgers were 6 of 9 on third down and dominated time of possession (21:20-8:40). That continued in the second half when Hornibrook hit Davis for one more score.
Wisconsin finished the time of possession battle 39:52-20:08 and continued a dominant bowl season for the Big Ten in which the conference is now 7-0.
Miami, meanwhile, was snake-bitten by those turnovers. Andrew Van Ginkel's interception kick-started the Badgers' run. Derick Tindal picked off Rosier in the red zone, and Ryan Connelly got a third. The Badgers acted like they've been there, and it showed.
Oh man RIP turnover chain pic.twitter.com/CIa6mw361X
— Ramzy Nasrallah (@ramzy) December 31, 2017
Richt will watch that tape, and he'll see all those things. The consensus is Miami was ahead of schedule this year, and that's true. The Hurricanes made their first appearance in the ACC championship game. The “turnover chain” made them the most endearing program in the FBS for a stretch, and in-state rivals Florida and Florida State will have new coaches in Dan Mullen and Willie Taggart, respectively. Those programs tend to switch hands with each decade, and this appears to be the Hurricanes' turn at the wheel.
This game was supposed to affirm that. After all, Miami started its legacy by winning the 1984 Orange Bowl against Nebraska. The Hurricanes were 5-1 in the Orange Bowl since that game and beat power football teams in this spot almost every time.
Perhaps that's the biggest lesson of all: Being Miami isn't good enough. Richt has to make this something different to catch Clemson — who beat the Hurricanes 38-3 in the ACC championship game. Miami has to be something more to win in this big-time spot, and it feels different with Richt on the sideline.
Except for that brief moment late in the first half, when it didn't. Richt lost his cool, and the Hurricanes lost the game. You'll see that, but it won't be long before everybody sees Miami in this spot again.
They open next season against LSU at Jerry World.
By then, we'll see what the Hurricanes took from this hard lesson.