Wisconsin vs. Minnesota recap: The Axe Stays Here

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin won its 10th straight game against Minnesota in a defensive grinder.

Hopefully Paul Bunyan's Axe is comfortable in its trophy case in Madison, Wis.

The Badgers' relied on a 125-yard rushing effort from senior tailback James White and a stalwart defense in the latest installation of the border battle to stifle the No. 25 Gophers, holding UM to just 185 total yards in a 20-7 win.

The win marked the 10th consecutive victory for Wisconsin over Minnesota, as both teams battled chilly weather Saturday afternoon at TCF Bank Stadium that saw temperatures dip into the single digits with the wind chill.

Wisconsin took control of the game early. Forcing a Minnesota three-and-out on the game's opening drive, White burst forth on Wisconsin's first offensive play from scrimmage for 49-yards, setting up a 31-yard Jack Russell field goal to give UW the early 3-0 lead in the first quarter.

As the team's exchanged three-and-outs after the field goal, the Gophers finally got on the scoreboard early in the second quarter.

After the Badgers recovered a fumble by Gopher tight end Maxx Williams on the opening play of the second quarter, quarterback Joel Stave was picked off by Aaron Hill after being hit on the throw. The Minnesota linebacker returned it 39 yards for a touchdown, giving Minnesota a 7-3 lead.

Stave finished the day going 16-for-27 through the air for 127 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

With under six minutes left in the half, Wisconsin outside linebacker Brenden Kelly stripped Minnesota quarterback Phillip Nelson from behind. With the ball loose, middle linebacker Chris Borland recovered the ball and began a mad scramble up field, only to be tackled behind at the Minnesota 49.

Five plays later the Badgers capitalized, as White walked the ball up the middle for a one-yard touchdown, giving UW back the lead at 10-7.

Wisconsin would tack on three more on a two-minute drill to end the half. Driving 41 yards to the Minnesota two-yard line in under two minutes, the Badgers had to settle for another field goal, extending their lead to 13-7 at the half, after failing to convert of three plays from the UM three-yard line.

Entering the third quarter with just one catch in his last seven quarters of play, Wisconsin's senior wide receiver Jared Abbrederis suddenly found himself with the ball in his hands several times on the team's opening drive of the second half.

Abbrederis led all players with seven catches for 67 yards and a touchdown.

Catching four passes for 49 yards, highlighted by a two-yard touchdown catch to end the drive, Abbrederis torched the Gophers on the UW's opening drive of the half. His catch put UW ahead comfortably 20-7, where the score would stay for the remainder of the game.

The icing on the cake came on the Gophers' ensuing drive, as Borland stripped the ball lose from Gophers' running back David Cobb, only to recover it himself. The forced fumble was the 14th of Borland's career, tying the standout linebacker for the most in FBS history. Borland finished the day with 12 tackles and a TFL, including two fumble recoveries and the forced fumble.

Borland and the Badgers defense never allowed Minnesota to score the entire game, holding the Gophers to just 11 first downs and Nelson to 93 yards passing while forcing three turnovers.

Hoisting the Axe yet again, the Badgers found a few ill-tempered Gophers blocking their way when, as tradition holds, they went to chop down their opponent's goal post. The minor confrontation ended without incident.

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