The Wisconsin Badgers (8-3, 5-2), fresh off that heartbreaking loss to the Northwestern Wildcats last week on Senior Day, look to rebound and hold on to Paul Bunyan's Axe for the 12th straight year when they face the Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-6, 2-5) at TCF Stadium on Saturday.
Minnesota leads the all-time series 59-57-8, and Wisconsin's offense may be hampered without their star game breaker. Head coach Paul Chryst and the Badgers offense will be without the services of junior running back Corey Clement, who did not travel with the team up to Minneapolis. Can redshirt senior Joel Stave avoid mistakes and carry the offense to notch his 30th win in school history, passing John Stocco for wins in a career for a quarterback and tying himself with Brooks Bollinger for the all-time Wisconsin mark?
Wisconsin's defense leads the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 12.4 points per game. Can they stop true freshman running back Shannon Brooks and redshirt junior quarterback Mitch Leidner?
It will be an emotional Senior Day for Minnesota, as former head coach Jerry Kill -- who had to retired in the middle of the 2015 season due to health reasons -- will be in the building. For more on what could be the best shot Minnesota has had to reclaim the Axe, here's Andrew Rosin's preview:
Minnesota has found itself in more offensive balance this season, which is somewhat surprising considering the only receiving threat they had last season is now on the Baltimore Ravens -- but wide receiver KJ Maye has proven to be a reliable target for quarterback Mitch Leidner. Drew Wolitarsky has been a solid second wide receiver option, and Brandon Lingen hasn't completely replaced current Ravens tight end Maxx Williams but he's stepped in and been valid. Leidner has had some inconsistent performances throughout the year, but if he gets in rhythm they can find purchase through the air.
On the ground, the Gophers rely on two freshman to get carries. Redshirt freshman Rodney Smith has found himself in a time share with true freshman Shannon Brooks, who had 174 yards and three touchdowns last weekend to help the Gophers stay alive in their quest for another bowl game last week. Both will receive carries, but the Gophers have had troubles getting the running game going against the top rushing defenses in the Big Ten and the country. When guard John Christianson says the Badgers aren't anything special, player-wise? There's some bulletin board material for the front seven.
The Badgers running game seems to for the most part has fallen apart since redshirt junior center Dan Voltz was lost for the season. Sure, college football rushing statistics count quarterback sacks for some reason but the only time the Badgers have rushed for over three yards per carry since Voltz's initial injury was the Illinois game, where the Badgers have had Voltz for a little over a half, and Rutgers, which is Rutgers. The situation with junior running back Corey Clement is up in the air again, but even if he plays, there's little trust in the Badgers' offensive line even against an average defensive line right now.
In the last four games of a Badgers season, Joel Stave's completed about 55 percent of his passes and has a ratio of 10 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. Minnesota's pass defense isn't as opportunistic as Northwestern's is in terms of forcing a quarterback into a mistake, but stylistically they're in a sort of bend but don't break scenario when it comes to defensive play through the air, as they're tied for 68th in completion percentage allowed and yet 32nd in passing yards allowed and 20th in yards per attempt allowed.
Read below for the game's complete viewing information.
Wisconsin Badgers vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers | Saturday, Nov. 28 | 3:42 p.m. ET / 2:42 p.m. CT | TCF Stadium, Minneapolis, Minn.
TV: Big Ten Network
Live stream: The game can be live streamed on BTN2Go (subscription required)
Mobile: BTN2Go mobile app for iOS and Android phones.
TV crew: Kevin Kugler (play-by-play), Matt Millen (analyst), Lisa Byington (sideline reporter)
Radio: Badger Sports Network; Satellite: Sirius 136, XM 196; Mobile: iHeartRadio app (WIBA)
Radio crew: Matt Lepay (play-by-play), Mike Lucas (analyst), Scott Nelson (sideline reporter)
Odds: Wisconsin, -3; 43 o/u