Wisconsin’s 14th straight win over Minnesota was a complete team effort, as both the offense and defense completely overwhelmed their rivals.
UW (12-0, 9-0 Big Ten) only allowed 133 total yards of Minnesota offense, including eight first downs and three of 13 third down conversions. Wisconsin gained 456 yards (287 rushing, 169 passing) on the afternoon, with big plays seen in both the run and passing games.
Inside linebackers Ryan Connelly and T.J. Edwards combined for 13 tackles and asserted themselves against an overwhelmed Gophers squad. Connelly recorded three tackles for loss, two sacks, in his return to his home state, while Edwards tallied 2.5 tackles for loss in the victory.
Quarterback Alex Hornibrook completed 15 of 19 passes for 151 yards with three touchdown passes and zero interceptions. Saturday’s performance was his third three-touchdown game of his career.
True freshman running back Jonathan Taylor exploded in the second half, gaining 149 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown for the afternoon.
UW now leads the all-time series 60-59-8. The Badgers ended their regular season undefeated for the first time in 105 years, since 1912.
On Wisconsin’s third offensive series of the game, Hornibrook found tight end Troy Fumagalli for a one-yard touchdown pass to give UW a 7-0 lead. There was balance in the 12-play, 73-yard drive with seven passes and five runs.
Fumagalli, a John Mackey Award finalist, caught two passes for 11 yards on the day.
After the defense forced its third three-and-out series in a row, Wisconsin went back to work on a nine-play, 63-yard drive. Forty-one of those yards came on a run by
America’s fullback Austin Ramesh that set up the Badgers in great field position. Rafael Gaglianone’s 32-yard field goal made it 10-0 with 9:08 remaining in the second quarter.
Another Wisconsin tight end got in on the scoring action during Saturday’s win. Redshirt sophomore Kyle Penniston caught a five-yard touchdown pass from Hornibrook to cap a seven-play, 79-yard drive. Big runs by running backs Chris James (29 yards) and Garrett Groshek (27) allowed the Badgers to move the ball effectively on the Gophers for their third score.
Wisconsin’s defense smothered, dominated and controlled Minnesota’s offense in the first two quarters, holding P.J. Fleck’s unit to only 46 total yards on 19 plays. The Gophers did not gain a first down until Rodney Smith’s 25-yard run with under a minute left in the second quarter.
The Badgers, on the other hand, tallied 262 total yards in the first half (147 rushing, 115 passing).
Hornibrook completed 13 of 17 passes for 115 yards in the first half with two touchdowns and no interceptions. True freshman Danny Davis (four receptions, 36 yards) and A.J. Taylor (three, 39) continued to shine despite injuries to the wide receiver position.
Davis would receive his second touchdown catch of the year in the third quarter on a five-yard pass from Hornibrook. Wisconsin’s fourth scoring drive tallied eight plays and 80 yards on that drive, which was aided by a spectacular 31-yard reception by redshirt freshman Kendric Pryor.
The wide receiver kept his feet in bounds near the sideline while reeling in the catch. Maybe even more impressive was the throw from Hornibrook, who was hit as he released the ball.
Davis finished the game with five receptions for 41 yards with the score, while Pryor caught three passes for 51 yards.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Taylor atoned for an earlier lost fumble, sprinting 53 yards for Wisconsin’s fourth touchdown of the game. Davis set up a key block to help spring the Doak Walker finalist for six.
Through 12 games, Taylor has gained 1,806 yards— the third-most recorded by a freshman in FBS history behind Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson and Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne.
The reserves came in during the final quarter, and it was only a matter of time before Wisconsin would chop down the goalposts inside its longest rival’s stadium.