2017 Orange Bowl: Winning “backyard” bowl motivates Miami Hurricanes

  • Jake Elman
  • Special to The Post
12:38 p.m Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017 Sports

When the Miami Hurricanes take the field for Saturday night’s Orange Bowl, the experience will be different only in name.

For the seventh time this season, the No. 10-ranked Hurricanes (11-2) will play in Hard Rock Stadium, hosting the No. 6-ranked Wisconsin Badgers (12-1) in what is officially a neutral-site game. Unofficially, Saturday is another home game for the Hurricanes in a stadium where they haven’t lost in over a year.

*More Hurricanes coverage

“That’s gonna be big,” senior defensive end Trent Harris said Wednesday. “That’s at home — it’s not like the whole stadium is going to be filled with UM fans; it’s a bowl game, so you know (the fans) will be split — but that’ll be big for the people at home. It’s right here in the backyard. It’s not away so they ain’t gotta see it on TV. They can see we won the game at home.”

Since Mark Richt took over as Hurricanes coach after the 2015 season, Miami is 10-2 at home and a perfect 6-0 this season. Miami has not lost at home since a 20-13 loss to North Carolina on Oct. 15, 2016.

Miami also won their final two home games in 2015 after Al Golden was fired in October of that season.

“If you’re gonna go (to a bowl), you’re gonna go regardless of where you live,” Hurricanes defensive lineman Joe Jackson said. “But I do think it’s important for us to win, to show how dominant we are in Florida and how big of a program we really are.”

Added linebacker Shaq Quarterman: “It feels great playing in your backyard at the Orange Bowl, historical game for Miami in general, so I think it’s a great feeling.”

Miami is not the only Florida team to host a bowl game in their own stadium this season. Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic Owls, who finished the season on a ten-game winning streak, routed Akron in the Boca Raton Bowl by a 50-3 final on Dec. 20.