Photo by Flickr user Josh May. Used with permission by creative commons.
Oh what a time it is to be alive. Wisconsin was able to beat Minnesota on the road, ruin the Gophers’ chances of appearing in a bowl game and bring home Paul Bunyan’s axe for a 12th straight year. Last week’s contest may have been brutal to watch against Northwestern, but this win against Minnesota almost makes up for it. Almost. Wisconsin may have only been favored by small margin, but that margin ended up turning into a 10-point loss for Minnesota.
Things may have started rough for the Badgers when Wisconsin QB Joel Stave threw an interception a minute and half into the game to Minnesota DB Briean Boddy-Calhoun for a 16-yard interception for a touchdown. I’ll admit, I may have given up at this point, but I still kept watching the game in hopes that the Badgers could come back. Halfway through the first Badgers are driving down the field and have found themselves in the red zone. Rb Alec Ingold ran it in for a a 1-yard interception to tie this game up. Second quarter starts up and RB Taiwan Deal runs it in for a 1-yard touchdown from the red zone to make this a 14-7 game. Minnesota is able to answer back in the quarter with a 6-yard touchdown run from RB Rodney Smith to tie the game up at 14-14.
Before the first half comes to an end, Wisconsin to seems to find its stride to build a comfortable lead going into the half. Deal is able answer back again with, but this time with a 13-yard touchdown to make this a 12-14 Wisconsin game. With a minute left in the quarter, Badger RB Dare Ogunbowale is able to get his own touchdown. He runs it in for an 18-yard touchdown to make this a 28-14 going into the half. Everything seems to be going Wisconsin’s way at this point.
Second half starts and no team is able to score until halfway through the third quarter when Wisconsin kicker Rafael Gaglianone kicks another mesmerizing 46-yard field goal to make this a 13-14 game. The kick was so amazing I had to stand up and walk around. Gophers are not able to respond, but attempt to make a comeback when Gopher QB Mitch Leidner connects with WR Drew Wolitarsky for a 27-yard pass to make this a 31-21. The Badgers are able to keep control though and shut down the Gophers in Minnesota to take the axe home for another year. Minnesota is just left with an empty shelf from where Paul Bunyan’s axe should be.
Joel Stave may not have put on the greatest QB performance of the year with only 9 of 17 completed passes, 79 yards and 1 interception, but he was able to find the right runners at the right time to help the Badgers. The Gophers QB Leidner technically played a better game with 16 of 37 completeios, 223 yards and 1 passing TD, but the Badgers defense was able to stay in form and get 3 interceptions to take this game away from Minnesota. Wisconsin Safety Tanner McEvoy had two 2 of 3 interceptions and LB Joe Schobert had the other. The Badger defense was able to limit Minnesota to only 53 rushing yards, and Badgers were also able to force a fumble.
It’s always a great day when Wisconsin wins, and this win was no different. Badgers shut down rival Minnesota in their own stadium to keep the axe another year. This game also officially ended a great Wisconsin season, but we’ll recap in another post.