Wisconsin has been dominant over Minnesota since 2004 (see Jake’s primer on Axe Week), and there have a number of great moments in the Badgers’ 14-game winning streak. Here are my top 10.
10. 2016 Comeback
Down 17–10 in the fourth quarter, Wisconsin exploded for 21 unanswered. The win helped Wisconsin clinch the Big Ten West division title.
2017 was the first time either team shut the other out in the border battle since Wisconsin shut out Minnesota in 1982.
Also, P.J. Fleck’s post-game presser is just a lovely advertisement for Wisconsin football.
There are too many great quotes from this one, but I’ll go with, “we ran out of people” as my favorite.
8. Gophers’ best chance isn’t good enough
Wisconsin came into the 2008 season with really high expectations and climbed up to eighth in the AP rankings after the third week of the season. However, UW really struggled the rest of the way, finishing 7–6.
The Gophers probably had their best chance to beat Wisconsin during the streak in this game. The Badgers were down overall, and Minnesota held a 21–7 lead going into halftime.
Well, the Badgers stormed back with a 28–7 run to take a 35–24 lead. Minnesota would crawl back to make it a three-point game, but Wisconsin held on for a 35–32 win.
7. Running the Gophers outta here
Oh, the good, old days. Wisconsin’s 2011 42–13 victory over Minnesota saw Russell Wilson throw for four touchdowns while completing 16 of 17 passes. Montee Ball ran for 166 yards and two touchdowns. Ball also caught a touchdown pass.
6. Still running the Gophers outta here
Ball and James White run for 166 yards/two touchdowns and 175 yards/three touchdowns in a 38–13 win in 2012.
5. There’s still hope, I guess
Wisconsin was down 10 points late in the fourth quarter at the Metrodome back in 2005, and it couldn’t stop Minnesota’s rushing attack one bit the whole game. It was hard to imagine a comeback against a team with one back (Laurence Maroney) gaining 258 yards and the other (Gary Russell) gaining 139 yards.
However, UW did orchestrate a quick drive to get within three points thanks to the arm of Badger quarterbacking legend and my personal hero and inspiration, John Stocco, keeping UW’s slim chances for a win alive.
Stocco ended the drive with a 21-yard strike to Brandon Williams through a rather small window, and Williams fell victim to a facemask penalty. Perhaps that would help on the ensuing onside kick?
4. Even Gary Andersen kept the streak alive
Wait, Minnesota was ranked? In 2014?
Minnesota jumped out to a 17–3 lead all the way until 4:39 left in the first half. UW would go on a 31–7 run in the last 35 minutes to put away the Gophers.
To boot, Melvin Gordon broke Ron Dayne’s Big Ten single-season rushing record on his first attempt. Gordon ran for 151 yards and one touchdown in the win. He got some assistance from Corey Clement’s 89 yards on seven carries.
Joel Stave was at his best in the throw game, as he went 11-of-18 for 215 yards and two touchdowns.
3. That was weird—can this really happen?
Back to that 2005 game. After the Williams touchdown, Wisconsin really needed a miracle onside kick because it absolutely couldn’t stop Minnesota’s rushing attack. Furthermore, Wisconsin only had one timeout left down three with 2:10 to go.
If Wisconsin doesn’t get this onside kick, it’s over. Right?
Wisconsin got a great bounce on the onside kick. However, something strange happened. The ball became possessed by the ghost of Pat O’Dea and bounced all the way down to the Minnesota eight-yard line. Maroney recovered it for the Gophers, and the Badgers would need to force a three-and-out to keep their winning chances alive.
2. The Card Says Go for Two
2010 was the most Bielema year of any Bielema year. Up 41–16 thanks to a White touchdown with 6:39 left in the game, Bret Bielema had a difficult choice to make. Should he get the sure one point and go up a mere 26 points? Or should he go for two to get that much safer 27-point lead?
Good news for Bielema: he had a card (allegedly) and that card (allegedly) said to go for two.
Wisconsin didn’t convert on the two-point attempt, which technically means Bielema didn’t run up the score, he ran it down. But Tim Brewster was still unhappy with Bielema and they had an enjoyable interaction after the game. Apologies for the bad video quality on this one, it’s all I could find:
And of course these two have had a bit of a rivalry since they left the Midwest.
1. Well, Wisconsin somehow forced a three-and-out and AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! AND THERE IT IS!!!!!!!!!!111!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And again, this time from Matt Lepay: