During this contest, however -- at TCF Stadium taking on an emotional Gophers squad with former head coach Jerry Kill running the team out on the field on Senior Day -- defensive coordinator Dave Aranda's squad would be complemented by an inconsistent and anemic Wisconsin running game. The defense didn't need to carry the team this game to keep UW close, as seen in many of the contests earlier this year (see: Iowa and Northwestern -- where ideally, Wisconsin's one goal line fumble and a certain official's interpretation of what a catch is from being 11-1), but they held Minnesota to 276 total yards on the afternoon, only 53 rushing.
Add another notch onto Wisconsin's belt of opponents they've stalled out offensively. It's become the expectation rather than the exception not just this season, ever since Aranda stepped foot into Madison back in December 2012.
More on the Game
More on the Game
Remember this defense from 2015, as it should go down as one of the best in UW history.
Their performance in the conference finale, against their greatest rival, was led by redshirt senior safety Michael Caputo and outside linebackers Joe Schobert and Vince Biegel. The defense suffocated the Gophers on third down, allowing only 3-of-12 conversions in the game. Not including two drives that ended in three plays due to fumbles, and another two drives that ended in three plays as well due to interceptions, Minnesota went three-and-out five times.
They consistently harrassed redshirt junior quarterback Mitch Leidner. Though the official statistics show only one sack, two tackles for loss, and zero quarterback hurries, pressure was brought from Schobert, Biegel, and fellow linebackers T.J. Edwards and T.J. Watt.
That helped contribute to five Gophers turnovers -- three through the air in the form of interceptions, along with two fumbles caused by Schobert and Caputo. Those takeaways gave shorter fields to the much-maligned Wisconsin offense, who converted three of those into 17 points on the crisp, Saturday afternoon on way to 257 yards rushing with its seventh offensive line combination in 12 contest.
Through these dozen games, the defense is amongst the best in the FBS. Consider these stats accumulated by Aranda's defense, according to the NCAA's official website through Sunday morning:
- Leads nation in points allowed with 13.1 per contest
- Third in total defense, allowing only 267.1 yards per game
- Fifth in rush defense, giving up only 97.9 yards per game
- Sixth in passing defense, allowing only 169.2 yards per game
- 11th in third down percentage, allowing only 30.9 percent of conversions
- Held opponents to 16.8 points per game, trailing only Alabama in that category for best in the nation
- Given up the least amount of yards per game in the FBS, allowing only 289.8 yards per contest.
- Allowed only 73 offensive touchdowns, with only Alabama (62) and Florida (69) for fewest given up in that time frame