MADISON- It had been nearly a decade and a half since the Minnesota Gophers last held possession of Paul Bunyan’s Axe in the battle with Wisconsin. On Saturday, that streak was reset, as Minnesota dominated Wisconsin at Camp Randall, 37-15.
Minnesota won the toss, and started with the ball. On the first play from scrimmage, the Gophers ran a deep slant and gained 23 yards for a first down. Wisconsin’s defense then stood strong, to then force a punt.
Wisconsin then had a 12 play drive to get to Minnesota’s 14-yard line behind a healthy dosage of Jonathan Taylor handoffs, but the drive stalled, and senior Rafael Gaglianone missed the 31-yard field goal attempt.
The Gophers took advantage of the Badgers’ mistake, driving for over five minutes behind deep slants, and converted a field goal attempt to take the 3-0 lead. Minnesota intercepted Alex Hornibrook on the next drive deep in Gophers’ territory.
Minnesota head coach PJ Fleck was very aggressive, going for it on fourth down on two separate occasions, and converting both. One of these conversions was on fourth and inches within Wisconsin’s 10 yard line, executed to perfection for a split zone handoff touchdown to put Minnesota up 10-0.
As if things couldn’t get any worse for the Badgers, Demetrius Douglas took a punt 69 yards for a touchdown to extend Minnesota’s lead 17-0, and Camp Randall was stunned.
Fortunately for Badgers fans, Wisconsin finally scored a touchdown on their final drive with a tough catch by Jake Ferguson in the end zone with one second left in the half to make it 17-7.
The second half was even worse for the Badgers. The offense had three more turnovers including two interceptions and a fumble, and could not score for 28 minutes. The defense also allowed 20 more points to the Gophers as a whole.
With the loss, the Badgers fell to 7-5 in one of the most disappointing seasons in school history.
On top of that, Wisconsin sent their seniors off with a loss on Senior Day.