Minnesota Vs. Wisconsin: Badgers Keep Axe With 42-13 Victory

For more on the Golden Gophers, visit SB Nation's The Daily Gopher. For more on the Badgers, visit Bucky's 5th Quarter.

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Badgers Retain Axe With 42-13 Victory Over Gophers

The Wisconsin Badgers are one of the Big Ten's best teams. The Minnesota Golden Gophers are. . .well, not. The two teams met at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday afternoon in the annual battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe, and the result was pretty much what you would have expected, with the Badgers coming out with a convincing 42-13 victory over the Golden Gophers.

The story of the day was the Wisconsin offense, who was only stopped a couple of times by the Minnesota defense. Quarterback Russell Wilson threw only 17 passes on the afternoon, and only one of them was incomplete. . .and even that one was a drop by wide receiver Nick Toon on a ball he probably should have brought in. He finished with 178 yards and four touchdown passes on the afternoon.

Wilson's first touchdown pass went to running back Montee Ball, who also found the end zone twice on the ground. Those three touchdowns were significant for Ball, as they gave him the single-season Big Ten record for touchdowns in a season. Ball has now gotten into the end zone 27 times in Wisconsin's first ten games of the season.

This was a domination all around by the Badgers, as they nearly tripled Minnesota's offensive yardage output, 461 to 156. Wisconsin had more yards rushing than the Gophers had total yards. They also had more yards passing than the Gophers had total yards. This is generally not a formula that is conducive to winning. The Gophers' offense, technically, did not generate any points at all on the afternoon. . .Minnesota's two touchdowns came on a fake field goal that saw kicker Jordan Wettstein dive into the end zone (and miss the subsequent extra point) and Duane Bennett's 96-yard return for a touchdown on the second half's opening kickoff.

The Badgers are now a game behind the Penn State Nittany Lions for first place in the Big Ten's Leaders division. Penn State and Wisconsin will meet in the regular season finale at Camp Randall Stadium in two weeks. The Badgers will travel to Champaign to take on the Illinois Fighting Illini next week, while the Gophers will travel to Evanston to take on the Northwestern Wildcats.


Badgers At Gophers: Wisconsin Scores Again As Ball Sets Record

The Wisconsin Badgers have pretty much had their way with the Minnesota Golden Gophers in this afternoon's battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe, and they have made it a truly historic afternoon for running back Montee Ball.

After stopping the Gophers on downs at midfield, the Badgers marched into the end zone in just seven plays, all of them runs. Ball got six of the seven carries, and gained 36 yards, including the final three to put himself into the end zone and give the Badgers a 42-13 lead.

The touchdown was the 27th for Ball on the season, which is a new single-season Big Ten Conference record. It was also his third on the afternoon, having gotten one through the air and two on the ground.

The Axe will stay with Wisconsin for another year, it would appear, as Wisconsin leads Minnesota 42-13 with just a shade over nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter of play at TCF Bank Stadium.


Badgers At Gophers: Wisconsin Answers Back, Leads By 22 Again

The Minnesota Golden Gophers simply don't have an answer for Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Russell Wilson, and it showed again on Wisconsin's first possession of the second half.

After starting out on their own 43-yard line, the Badgers' offense marched down the field, thanks to Wilson and the running of Montee Ball. Wilson scrambled for nine yards on a 3rd-and-8, and Ball moved the ball inside the five with another powerful run. From there, Wilson faked a handoff, and lofted one that was brought down by Jacob Pedersen for another Wisconsin touchdown, Wilson's fourth on the afternoon. After the extra point, the Badgers again had a 22-point lead at 35-13.

Oh, and Wilson has still yet to throw an incomplete pass. He is now 16-of-16 to go along with his four touchdowns.

We're midway through the third quarter in the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe, and the Minnesota Golden Gophers trail the Wisconsin Badgers by a score of 35-13.


Badgers At Gophers: Bennett's Big Return Draws Minnesota Closer

Well, that's a start to the second half I think we can all approve of.

Running back Duane Bennett, who had one big kickoff return to his credit earlier in the game, took the opening kickoff of the second half off of the foot of Wisconsin's Philip Welch, and after a couple of nifty moves, flew down the field and took the ball into the end zone for a touchdown. It was officially measured as a 96-yard return, and with the extra point, the Minnesota Golden Gophers drew closer to the Wisconsin Badgers by a score of 28-13.

Now the Gophers turn things over to their defense, and the hopes that they can finally slow down Badgers' quarterback Russell Wilson. In the first half, Wilson completed all 13 of his pass attempts for 162 yards and three touchdowns.

Just underway in the third quarter at TCF Bank Stadium, and the Minnesota Golden Gophers trail the Wisconsin Badgers in the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe by a score of 28-13.


Badgers At Gophers: Wisconsin Turns Turnover Into Another Touchdown

The Minnesota Golden Gophers generated a three-and-out against the Wisconsin Badgers after scoring their first touchdown, and appeared to have a promising drive going on their ensuing possession, but it was not to be.

On a 2nd-and-7 play from their own 49, MarQueis Gray dropped back, rolled out to his left, and threw one back across to the field for tight end John Rabe. Rabe was wide open, but rather than moving to the football as it came toward him, he sat back and waited for it. The ball hung in the air long enough for Wisconsin's Antonio Fenelus to pick it off and thwart the Minnesota drive.

The Wisconsin offense didn't need a whole lot of time from there, as it took them just five plays to get from their own 22-yard line to the end zone. The drive concluded with the second touchdown pass of the day from Russell Wilson to Nick Toon, and the Badgers were on the scoreboard again, with the extra point giving them a 28-6 lead.

That's where we stand going into halftime, ladies and gentlemen. The Gophers face some pretty long odds in their attempts to reacquire Paul Bunyan's Axe, but stranger things have happened. Be sure to hang out here with us for the second half, because we will continue to update you with all the latest developments from TCF Bank Stadium.


Badgers At Gophers: Trickery Gets Minnesota On The Scoreboard

It took a little bit of trickery, and quite possibly tomfoolery, but the Minnesota Golden Gophers have found the end zone against the Wisconsin Badgers.

After a short kickoff gave the Gophers the ball at their own 40-yard line, Minnesota moved down the field with a nice combination of running and passing, getting all the way down to the Wisconsin 5-yard line. After a third down pass by MarQueis Gray failed, the Gophers lined up for a 22-yard field goal attempt. However, rather than kicking the ball, the holder flipped the ball back to kicker Jordan Wettstein. Wettstein sprinted around the right side of the formation, broke a tackle in the open field, and dove into the end zone for a Minnesota touchdown.

The play must have really taken something out of Wettstein, as he missed the extra point, but the Gophers got on the board.

We're about halfway through the second quarter of play at TCF Bank Stadium, and the Minnesota Golden Gophers trail the Wisconsin Badgers in the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe, 21-6.


Badgers At Gophers: Minnesota Trailing Big, Now Down 21-0

This one is turning into. . .well, what a lot of people expected it to turn into, actually.

After an awful punt by Minnesota's Dan Orseske. . .with the bounce and roll backwards, it netted four yards. . .the Badgers started out at their own 44-yard line. Once again, the Wisconsin offense rolled downfield, mainly on the ground, thanks to the combination of James White and Montee Ball. However, the final play of the drive came from quarterback Russell Wilson, who found receiver Nick Toon for a 9-yard touchdown strike on the first play of the second quarter. The extra point made it 21-0 in favor of the visitors, and it would appear that the rout is officially on in Minneapolis.

In the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe, the Minnesota Golden Gophers trail the Wisconsin Badgers, 21-0, with 14:50 remaining in the first half of play at TCF Bank Stadium. Keep it here for all the latest updates.


Badgers At Gophers: Wisconsin Increases Lead To 14-0

It didn't take them nearly as long as the previous scoring drive, but the end result was exactly the same.

After forcing the Gophers into a three-and-out on their first possession, the Badgers started on their own 49-yard line, and needed just three plays to find the end zone. Russell Wilson found Nick Toon for 21 yards on the first play of the drive, and followed that up with a 16-yard completion to Bradie Ewing. Montee Ball then took a handoff and went up the middle completely untouched for his second touchdown of the afternoon. The extra point by Philip Welch gave the Badgers a 14-0 lead.

If the Gophers want to have any shot at taking back Paul Bunyan's Axe in this one, they need to start putting up a bit more resistance against this Wisconsin offense. Sadly, it doesn't look as though they have the ability to do that.

With a little more than four minutes left in the first quarter of play, the Minnesota Golden Gophers trail the Wisconsin Badgers by a score of 14-0.


Badgers At Gophers: Wisconsin Take Early Lead, 7-0

The Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Wisconsin Badgers are underway at TCF Bank Stadium, and the Badgers took their time getting down the field. But, that's exactly what they did, and they found themselves in the end zone for an early 7-0 lead in the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe.

The Badgers started out at their own 19-yard line, and though the Golden Gophers defense forced them into a couple of third down situations, Russell Wilson and company just kept converting, including a 3rd-and-13 where Minnesota inexplicably decided to only rush three people, allowing Wilson to hit Jeff Duckworth for a 17-yard gain to keep the drive alive.

On the 14th play of the drive, with the Badgers facing 3rd and 2 from the 5, Wilson dropped back to throw, and found a wide open Montee Ball in the left flat. Ball literally walked into the end zone for the score, and the extra point gave the Badgers a 7-0 lead.

The Gophers are now awaiting the kickoff for their first possession, trailing the Badgers by a score of 7-0 with less than seven minutes left in the first quarter.


Wisconsin Vs. Minnesota Game Time, TV Schedule And More

Wisconsin is looking to make it eight straight wins in their rivalry series with Minnesota. They have held Paul Bunyan's Axe since winning it in 2004, but four of those seven victories since have been by a touchdown or less. two years ago when they met Minnesota in TCF Bank Stadium they were able to come away with a 31-28 victory. Minnesota has recovered from a disastrous start to the 2011 season to defeat Iowa and challenge Legends Division leader Michigan State last week.

Game date, time: 3:30 pm ET, Saturday, November 12, 2011

Location: TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN

TV channel: Big Ten Network

Spread: Wisconsin favored by 27

Series history:Minnesota Leads 57-53-8

For further reading, news, discussion and more, visit Minnesota Golden Gophers blog The Daily Gopher and Wisconsin Badgers blog Bucky's 5th Quarter. Here’s the complete Week 10 college football TV schedule, and stay tuned to SB Nation’s college football news hub for more.


Badgers At Gophers: A History Of Paul Bunyan's Axe

The Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Wisconsin Badgers have the longest-running rivalry in college football, with Saturday's contest marking the 120th game played between the two teams, going all the way back to 1890. The Gophers currently lead the all-time series, with a record against Wisconsin of 59-53, with the teams having tied eight times.

Paul Bunyan's Axe is the current prize that is contested by the Golden Gophers and the Badgers on the football field. . .but a look back at history will tell us that it isn't the first one.

The original trophy that the Golden Gophers and Badgers fought over in the early years of their rivalry was known as the Slab of Bacon. The Slab of Bacon (as you can see from the linked picture there) was nothing more than a piece of wood with a football with an M or a W. . .depending on which way it hangs. . .carved into the top of it. The first game contested over the Slab of Bacon happened in 1930, when the Badgers defeated the Golden Gophers in Madison by a score of 14-0. However, the Badgers' success in games played for the Slab was limited, as the Gophers won 11 of the 14 match-ups overall, including ten of the last eleven.

The last game played for the Slab took place in 1943, a 25-13 Minnesota victory in Minneapolis. There was supposed to be a ceremonial exchange after the game, but officials for the two teams could not find each other. The Badgers sent it to the Gophers' locker room, but George Hauser, the Minnesota coach at the time, refused to accept it, saying that he believed such trophies should not be contested for the duration of World War II, which was taking place at the time. Hence, the trophy game stopped, and the Slab of Bacon was replaced by Paul Bunyan's Axe in 1948.

The trophy was believed to have been lost, but it was actually found in a storage room in Camp Randall Stadium in 1994. It turned out that, while the trophy was thought to be lost, somebody had been maintaining it, as it had the scores of every Minnesota/Wisconsin game from 1930 to 1970 written on the back of it. So, it wasn't lost so much as it was that Wisconsin kept it after the Gophers had technically beaten them for it and then just never bothered to give it back. The Slab currently hangs in the football office at Camp Randall Stadium, even though it is technically property of the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

(He said objectively.)

On to the Axe, which was created by the Wisconsin letterwinners' organization and instituted as the trophy in the series in 1948. The scores for every game are recorded on the handle of the axe, which is six feet long. The original axe was retired after the 2003 game. . .the last time Minnesota came away with it, ironically enough. . .and a new axe was brought out for the 2004 edition of the game. Tradition states that if the team that currently holds the Axe retains it, they run to their own sideline, take it out, and carry it around the field. If the team not currently holding the Axe wins the game, they are allowed to run to the other team's sidelines and steal it away.

The Badgers have had a great deal more success in games involving the Axe than they did in games involving the Slab, They lead the series since the Axe became the trophy by a tally of 36-24-3, with this Saturday's game being the 64th game in which the Axe will be up for grabs. In fact, the Golden Gophers have won just five of the last 21 meetings against the Badgers, and have not come out on top since 2003, when Rhys Lloyd's last-second field goal at the Metrodome gave the Golden Gophers a 37-34 victory over the Badgers.

The odds are against the Gophers bringing the Axe back home this season. . .they're currently four-touchdown underdogs to the Badgers. . .but it will certainly be a site to see if they can pull off the upset.


Minnesota Vs. Wisconsin: Paul Bunyan's Axe Up For Grabs

For more on the Golden Gophers, visit SB Nation's The Daily Gopher. For more on the Badgers, visit Bucky's 5th Quarter.

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