Paul Bunyan’s Axe is finally returning to Minneapolis after Minnesota defeated Wisconsin 37-15 in Big Ten play at Madison, Wis., on Saturday.
Entering the contest, Wisconsin had beaten Minnesota 14 straight times, including 11 in a row in Madison.
In a season full of ups and downs, the Gophers ended the regular season on a strong note behind a solid rushing attack and a defense that intercepted three passes.
Not only did the Gophers (6-6, 3-6 Big Ten) wipe clean the stain of losing repeatedly to the Badgers, but did so by scoring 34 points in the final three quarters, Minnesota is now bowl eligible.
The Badgers (7-5, 5-4) were held to seven points until quarterback Alex Hornibrook’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Danny Davis III with 1:12 left.
Freshman Mohamed Ibrahim paced the Gophers’ rushing attack with 26 carries for 121 yards and a touchdown. His 10-yard touchdown run gave the Gophers a 10-0 lead with 2:21 left until halftime.
Demetrius Douglas returned a punt 69 yards for a touchdown to make it 17-0 with 1:05 left in the half.
Freshman Bryce Williams added eight rushes for 50 yards to go with fourth-quarter touchdown runs of 23 and 16 yards.
Minnesota, which won its first three games this season, fed off its opportunistic defense. Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor, who ran for 321 yards in last week’s triple-overtime win at Purdue, was held to 120 yards on 19 carries.
Coney Durr, Tyler Johnson and Julian Huff each had one interception for the Gophers. Johnson also led the Gophers with four receptions for 76 yards. Minnesota freshman quarterback Tanner Morgan played a steady game and did not force any passes, completing 9 of 16 passes for 124 yards.
Hornibrook started for the first time since the win over Rutgers on Nov. 3, and his timing and rhythm was off. With the Badgers trailing all game, and the running game surprisingly ineffective,
Hornibrook completed 22 of 33 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns but threw three interceptions.
The Badgers converted only 4 of 11 third-down attempts, committed four turnovers and were held to 170 rushing yards. Minnesota played a near flawless game, with just two penalties, zero turnovers and finishing with 35 minutes, six seconds of possession time.
—Field Level Media