Another Rivalry Game, Another Stomping: Badgers 41, Gophers 23

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Badgers Retain The Axe, 41-23 Over Gophers

(Sports Network) – John Clay ran for 111 yards and three touchdowns and James White added 118 rushing yards and two scores, as 20th- ranked Wisconsin ran over Minnesota, 41-23, in the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe.

Scott Tolzien was efficient throwing the ball, completing 17-of-23 passes for 223 yards and one touchdown. The combination attack helped the Badgers (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten) rebound from last week’s loss at Michigan State.

Wisconsin has won the last seven meetings between the schools, which is the Badgers’ longest winning streak in the storied series.

Adam Weber threw for 249 yards and three touchdowns for the Golden Gophers (1-5, 0-2), but completed only 11-of-25 passes. DeLeon Eskridge had a team- high 72 rushing yards as Minnesota dropped its fifth straight game.

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Okay, Maybe Not: Gophers Show A Spark, Close Gap To 35-16

And as soon as I start talking badly about them, the Gophers do something.

After a huge pass play to Bryant Allen, Adam Weber looked for Da’Jon McKnight down the right sideline, and McKnight made an outstanding catch despite very tight coverage by the Wisconsin defender. The pass covered 22 yards, and pulled the Gophers to within 19.

Yeah. . .“pulled them” to within 19.

But seriously, I don’t think a Gopher is going to make a better catch this season than the one McKnight just made. Seek it out if you can.

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Badgers Ice It, Take 35-9 Lead

After MarQueis Gray dropped a sure touchdown pass for the Gophers and they had to punt, the Badgers again just stomped all over Minnesota’s defense as they drove down the field.

The Gophers pretty much had no chance at stopping the Badger offense, as they moved the 80 yard downfield with ease, concluding with an eight-yard touchdown run by John Clay, his third of the afternoon.

With less than twelve minutes left until halftime, the Gophers trail the Badgers by a score of 35-9.

I think we’re just about through with this for now. No point in continuing to tell everyone that a Tim Brewster-coached team stinks and is getting demolished by a rival in a trophy game. Again.

We’ll be back after the slaughter is over with a recap.

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Badgers Pulling Away, Now Lead 28-9

It’s beginning to look more and more like Paul Bunyan’s Axe will be staying in Wisconsin for another year.

After a three-and-out that followed a great kick return by Troy Stoudermire, the Badgers simply did whatever they wanted as they moved down the field against the Gophers, and culminated the drive with a four-yard touchdown run by John Clay.

With about a minute remaining in the third quarter, the Gophers trail the Badgers by a score of 28-9.

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Garbage Officiating Helps The Badgers To A Touchdown

The Gophers, to put it chartiably, got hosed on two different occasions on Wisconsin’s first drive of the second half.

The first came on a pass to tight end Lance Kendricks. Kendricks caught the ball for first down yardage, but clearly got stripped of the ball by a Minnesota linebacker, and the ball was recovered by the Gophers. However, the officials determined that Kendricks had “forward progress,” and the ball stayed with Wisconsin.

The second came on the next third down, as the Gophers blitzed, and Badger quarterback Scott Tolzien simply threw a wild pass up for grabs that nobody had any real chance of catching. However, the officials threw a flag on linebacker Keanon Carpenter for holding. . .replay showed no contact of any sort. . and the drive continued.

The Badgers concluded the drive with an eight-yard touchdown run by James White, and that made the score 21-9.

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Weber Finds Gray In The End Zone To Make The Score 14-9

The Gophers needed to find their way into the end zone before halftime, and that exactly what they did against the Badgers.

After converting a huge fourth down on a pass to MarQueis Gray, Weber dropped back on second and goal and found Gray on a fade pattern in the back corner of the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown pass.

Unfortunately, Eric Ellestad’s extra point never made it more than three feet off of the ground. When everyone in front of you is six feet tall, that means you’re generally going to miss, and that’s exactly what happened.

As we head to the locker room at halftime, the Gophers trail the Badgers by a score of 14-9.

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Gophers Trail Badgers 14-3 Midway Through Second Quarter

We apologize for the delay in getting our coverage underway this afternoon, folks.

We join the game at Camp Randall Stadium in progress, with the Golden Gophers trailing the nineteenth-ranked Badgers by a score of 14-0.

The Badgers took that lead with two first quarter touchdowns, one coming on a three yard touchdown pass from quarterback Scott Tolzien to Jared Abbrederis, and another one coming on a one-yard run by tailback John Clay.

The Gophers just moved downfield on a long drive, but stalled in the red zone and had to settle for a 23-yard Eric Ellestad to make the score 14-3 with just under six minutes remaining until halftime.

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Minnesota at Wisconsin: An Attempt To Salvage Pride, Dignity, And The Axe

The battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe adds another chapter this week, as the Minnesota Golden Gophers pay a visit to the 20th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers.

This is the most-played rivalry in the history of the Football Bowl Subdivision, with Minnesota laying claim to a 59-52-8 advantage in the series. However, Wisconsin has won the last six meetings, and leads in the battle for the Axe by a 35-24-3 count.

Minnesota is hoping to snap a four-game losing streak, the most recent of which occurred last week in the Big Ten opener against Northwestern, 29-28. The team's previous three setbacks came against Northern Illinois, USC and South Dakota -- all at home. The Gophers' lone win came in the season opener at Middle Tennessee.

Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster has to be feeling the heat, and while this game represents a challenge for sure, next week's trip to Purdue could yield a victory. Following that bout, the Gophers welcome Penn State and Ohio State to Minneapolis before playing two of their final three games on the road.

Despite the mounting losses, Brewster is proud of the effort put forth by his team, "It's hard to find words right now. It's just gut-wrenching to lose that football game [today], with the effort that our kids put into it. We just didn't make the play to win the football game. I feel for our kids because they poured it out there and they didn't get the reward. That's really disappointing."

Wisconsin had been undefeated heading into its conference opener last week at Michigan State, but it was the Spartans who picked up the victory with a 34-24 decision.

The Badgers, who are 3-0 at home this season, are coached by Bret Bielema, who owns an impressive 42-15 record in his four-plus seasons at the helm and who is a perfect 4-0 in games against Minnesota. Despite the loss last week, Wisconsin can get back in the Big Ten title chase with a win here followed by a victory over second-ranked Ohio State next week, with both games being played in Madison.

DeLeon Eskridge ran for 119 yards and a TD, but it wasn't enough as the Golden Gophers were tripped up at home by the Northwestern Wildcats last weekend. It was the third career 100-rushing game for Eskridge. QB Adam Weber completed just 14 passes, amassing 194 yards with two TDs and an INT for Minnesota, which made good on just 3-of-11 third-down conversion attempts while allowing the Wildcats 8-of-11 success.

Eskridge is actually the team's second-leading rusher on the season, having gone for 240 yards and two TDs thus far. Duane Bennett has started all five games and has 400 yards and two scores to his credit, the team as a whole averaging 166 ypg on the ground. Weber is hitting just over 62 percent of his throws for 239.8 ypg with nine TDs and four picks. MarQueis Gray and Da'Jon McKnight are the club's top receivers, having pulled in 24 and 20 balls, respectively, with each reaching the end zone three times.

Three Gophers finished in double digits in tackles in last week's loss, led by Michael Carter and his 11 stops, nine of which were solo efforts. Both teams were credited with just one sack each, but UM came away with three turnovers. For the season, Minnesota is giving up 185.6 ypg on the ground and 221.2 ypg through the air. The opposition has scored 10 TDs via each mode, and the Gophers are led is tackles by Gary Tinsley with 32.

Wisconsin RB John Clay was held to 80 yards on 17 carries last week against Michigan State, snapping his streak of 10 straight games rushing for at least 100 yards. James White did his best to pick up the slack, running for 98 yards and two TDs. The Badgers finished with just 292 total yards, compared to 444 for the Spartans, who won the time of possession battle by nearly 13 minutes and converted half of their 18 third-down opportunities.

With Clay and his 581 yards and six TDs leading the way, the Badgers rank 13th in the nation in rushing offense (239 ypg) and 26th in scoring (36.4 ppg). QB Scott Tolzien is a 68.8 percent passer who averages 195.6 ypg with six TDs against only two INTs, and his favorite receiver is Lance Kendricks, who has 20 grabs for 316 yards and three scores.

J.J. Watts led the UW defensive stand against Michigan State with 10 tackles, and the team came up with three turnovers and two sacks on the day. Watts and Blake Sorensen currently pace the Badgers with 24 tackles apiece, while a total of 13 UW defenders have double-digit stops on the season.

Hoping his team responds favorably after last week's setback, coach Bielema reflected on that outing while also turning his attention to this week's opponent, "What we want to do is get better on a weekly basis. We didn't do the things we needed to do to win that football game, but my goal and aspiration for this group is to focus on one week at a time. And I think where we're at now will probably let us focus on that goal better than ever before because there is a setback, but the immediate result is you get a chance to play Minnesota in a rivalry game and move ourselves forward."

The Gophers are in a tough spot here, playing on the road against a team coming off its first loss of the season. Don't expect the Badgers to be all that hospitable in what should be a fight, but a win for the home team nonetheless.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Wisconsin 31, Minnesota 17

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