After the sour taste of the thrashing they received from Clemson in the ACC Championship Game, the consolation prize couldn't have been sweeter for the Miami Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes will stay home and play in the Orange Bowl for the first time since the 2003 season. They will face Big Ten runner-up Wisconsin (12-1) on Dec. 30 at Hard Rock Stadium.
That was assured Sunday when Miami remained in the top 10 in the College Football Playoffs, at No. 10, following Saturday's 38-3 embarrassment against No. 1 Clemson. The Orange Bowl takes the highest-ranked ACC team not in the CFP semifinals.
The 'Canes (10-2) were embracing the prospect late Saturday following their second consecutive disappointing performance in their first appearance in the ACC title game
"I'll be excited," coach Mark Richt said following the rout in Charlotte, N.C. "It's a wonderful opportunity. I mean, before the year started, if you said we're going to play for the championship and get a chance to play in the Orange Bowl, we would not have been too happy about not winning the championship, but dang sure excited about the opportunity to play in the Orange Bowl, one of the classic bowl games in America."
No. 6 Wisconsin is also coming off a loss in its conference championship game, falling 27-21 to Ohio State on Saturday in the Big Ten showdown. That cleared the path for the Badgers to the Orange Bowl, which matches the ACC entry against the top non-conference champ from the Big Ten of SEC.
No. 5 Ohio State (11-2), spurned for the final spot in the CFP semifinals, is headed to the Cotton Bowl against Southern California (11-2).
Clemson (12-1) will face Alabama (11-1) in the Sugar Bowl and No. 2 Oklahoma (12-1) will meet No. 3 Georgia (12-1) in the Rose Bowl to determine the finalists for the the CFP Championship Game at Atlanta on Jan. 8.
Despite the back-to-back losses after beginning the season with 10 wins, the Hurricanes can cap an uplifting, turnaround season with a bowl victory. That would give UM its first 11-win season since 2003, which ended with an Orange Bowl win.
Wisconsin would seem a more favorable match-up for Miami than if they were to face Ohio State, which will be fuming about its CFP snub throughout the bowl season.