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Minnesota vs. Wisconsin final score: Gophers fall to Badgers, 38-13

James White and Montee Ball combined for five touchdowns, as Wisconsin cruised to a 38-13 over rival Minnesota. It was the Badgers ninth straight win over the Gophers, as Paul Bunyan's Axe again returns to Madison.

Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

For the ninth straight year, Paul Bunyan’s Axe will return to Madison, with Wisconsin's 38-13 win over Minnesota Saturday afternoon.

More important than the win itself for Wisconsin, was how the Badgers got the victory. And they got it with the return of their dominant rushing attack.

Backs James White and Montee Ball were the difference Saturday, as the pair combined for a staggering 341 yards and five touchdowns. White got the scoring going early for the Badgers, with a touchdown run in each of the first, second and third quarters, before Ball added a pair of his own to blow the game open in the fourth. Quarterback Joe Stave added 107 yards passing for the Badgers, who improved to 6-2 and 3-1 in league play with the win.

With the victory, the Badgers remain atop the Big Ten Leaders Division standings, in pursuit of their third straight conference title.

As for Minnesota, it was a tough loss for the Gophers, who now fall to 0-3 in Big Ten play after a 4-0 beginning to the 2012 season. True freshman quarterback Philip Nelson struggled in his first career start, throwing two interceptions to go along with two touchdowns as well.

Box Score Hero: The answer here is James White, who had a breakout afternoon, finishing with three touchdown runs and a season-high 179 yards rushing.

Rankings Ramifications: It depends on how the rest of the afternoon shakes out, but with five wins in their last six games, and a 3-1 mark in Big Ten play, it does appear Wisconsin could re-enter the Top 25 for the first time since early September. At 4-3, there is no chance that Minnesota will find themselves anywhere near the rankings when they come out later in the weekend.

But Did They Cover? Yes. The Badgers were able to cover a 17.5 point opening spread.

For More On This Game: For more on Wisconsin football, visit Bucky’s 5th Quarter and for more on Gophers football, visit The Daily Gopher, plus SB Nation Minnesota.

Next Week's Schedule: For the Badgers, they’ll get a rematch of last year’s Big Ten title game against Michigan State in Madison, while Minnesota hosts Purdue.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.