The way Miami coach Mark Richt looks at it, his team's loss to Clemson in the ACC Championship Game is just further evidence of how much further the Hurricanes have to go before becoming a true conference and national title contender.
"It shows the class of our league and they're the measuring stick," Richt said of the 38-3 pounding from the Tigers. "We're going to get there, but we're not there yet."
The Hurricanes (10-2) have lost their last two games after nearly closing out their first undefeated regular season since 2002 and now will welcome a much-needed break after playing 11 consecutive weekends before taking on Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl. The game is Dec. 30 on their home field, Hard Rock Stadium.
"The biggest thing to start out with is to get rested," Richt said. "The guys are going to have a chance to get a little bit of a break from football. We have to finish strong academically, obviously, and then we'll do some running and lifting and things like that, but not carrying the pads and pounding and things like that.
"It's going to give us a nice break from the game itself."
A win over the Big Ten runner-up Badgers (12-1) would be a nice finish to Richt's second year, but the 35-point loss to Clemson is going to linger for a while.
"We didn't show well, we know it, and it hurts," Richt said. "It hurts to lose. We were kind of getting used to winning and lost the last two.
"We'll have time to rest up and regroup and maybe get little stronger the next couple weeks and get back to work and ready to play Wisconsin, which has done nothing but win all year long."
The Badgers will test Miami's defense with a strong running game spearheaded by the Big Ten's leading rusher in running back Jonathan Taylor. Taylor rushed for 1,847 yards for the season, but managed only 41 on 15 carries in the Big Ten title game loss to Ohio State.
"They have a lot of different schemes, and those guys played very fast, sideline to sideline, very aggressive," Taylor said of the Buckeyes. "I felt like those guys played a heck of a game."
Shutting down the run and forcing Badgers quarterback Alex Hornibrook to make a big play likely will be the key for Miami on defense. Likewise, the key offensively will be getting the running game going again.
Miami has rushed for only 149 yards in the two losses that marked the end of the season, and quarterback Malik Rosier has had two of his worst games in trying to make up the slack, completing only 29 of 63 passes against Pittsburgh and Clemson combined.