The No. 12 Wisconsin Badgers (10-2 overall, 7-2 B1G) reclaimed Paul Bunyan’s Axe and capsized the No. 8 Minnesota’s (10-2 overall, 7-2 B1G) chances of its first B1G Championship Game berth, 38-17.
Wisconsin got off to a slow start in the game, punting on its first two drives and fumbling on its third and the Gophers were quick to capitalize.
Following a Wisconsin three-and-out on its opening drive, Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan exploited the fact that Wisconsin was without one of its starting cornerbacks and starting a true freshman in Semar Melvin.
Morgan connected with Rashod Bateman on a 51-yard touchdown pass, on Minnesota’s second offensive play of the game. Bateman was covered by Melvin.
Following Minnesota’s opening score, Wisconsin went on a 10-0 run to end the first half, with a Zach Hintze field goal and then later a Jonathan Taylor 28-yard touchdown reception.
This was Taylor’s 23rd touchdown of the season and by far his most-impressive receiving score, as he turned back to make the reception and then backed the defender into the end zone.
Wisconsin picked up where it left off in the second half, with a 4-play, 91 yard drive, as the snow began to fall harder.
With the snow falling down, one would think that Wisconsin would queue up rushing play after rushing play, but Jack Coan was throwing dimes, as he connected on a 31-yard completion to Cephus to begin the drive and then two three plays later, a 47-yard touchdown pass.
On Minnesota’s following drive, they ended their scoring draught of five scoreless drives, following its opening score. Michael Lantz connected on a 38-yard field goal, to cap off a 7-play, 61-yard drive.
However, Wisconsin was not to be outdone, as Aron Cruickshank returned the Minnesota kick off seven yards and then flipped the ball to freshman running back Isaac Guerendo on a reverse, who took it 49 yards, into Minnesota territory.
Wisconsin then needed just two plays to score, when Kendric Pryor took a sweep, 26 yards in for the score.
Minnesota rebounded following the Pryor score and was able to get into a goal-to-go situation, but was unable to capitalize. Morgan tested Caesar Williams on back-to-back plays, as Williams was on coverage of Tyler Johnson.
Williams broke up passes on third and fourth down, putting the ball back in the hands of the Wisconsin offense, following a turnover on downs.
Wisconsin did not waste the opportunity either, going on a 6-play, 96-yard drive, which was capped off by an 11-yard Taylor rushing score.
Following a Morgan fumble, which was forced by Garrett Rand, Wisconsin scored a touchdown on it’s fifth consecutive drive of the game. Taylor scored his third touchdown of the game, to cap off the 18-yard drive.
Minnesota would score one final touchdown in the game, as Morgan connected with Johnson in the end zone, on a 12-yard pass.
Wisconsin will face No. 1 Ohio State (12-0 overall, 9-0 B1G) in the B1G Championship Game next weekend.