(Saturday, October 9th)
Final Score: (20) Wisconsin 41, Minnesota 23
Madison, WI (Sports Network) - John Clay ran for 111 yards and three touchdowns and James White added 118 rushing yards and two scores, as 20th- ranked Wisconsin ran over Minnesota, 41-23, in the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe.
Scott Tolzien was efficient throwing the ball, completing 17-of-23 passes for 223 yards and one touchdown. The combination attack helped the Badgers (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten) rebound from last week's loss at Michigan State.
Wisconsin has won the last seven meetings between the schools, which is the Badgers' longest winning streak in the storied series.
"I think that any time you come into this week, it's about who can keep their composure," said Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema. "I think the players have to understand that there is a lot of emotion out there...If you focus on the details that you're training 365 days a year, nothing magical has to happen. You just go out and execute."
Adam Weber threw for 249 yards and three touchdowns for the Golden Gophers (1-5, 0-2), but completed only 11-of-25 passes and was sacked twice. DeLeon Eskridge had a team-high 72 rushing yards as Minnesota dropped its fifth straight game.
After forcing a Gophers punt on the game's opening possession, the Badgers took over at their own 31-yard line and drove for a score. Clay rushed for 20 yards on the first two plays before White ran for a first down. Later in the march, three consecutive runs by Clay set up Tolzien's three-yard touchdown pass to Jared Abbrederis, who made the catch near the one, pivoted and got across the goal line with nine minutes left in the opening quarter.
Minnesota put it in reverse on its next drive, losing 14 yards before punting. Wisconsin started at the Gophers' 45 and needed nine plays to reach the end zone again. The Wisconsin offensive line paved a smooth road for Clay's unimpeded one-yard run, which gave the Badgers a 14-0 lead with 2:30 left.
The Gophers got on the scoreboard with 6:21 left in the second quarter, when Eric Ellestad kicked a 24-yard field goal, then held Wisconsin to a three-and- out.
Minnesota then took the ensuing possession and reached the end zone to make it a tight game at halftime. The Gophers went 61 yards in 12 plays, with one being a fourth-down conversion and the final one being a nine-yard reception by MarQueis Gray. Weber tossed up a lob pass on the left side of the end zone, while Gray timed his jump better than his defender to pull down the ball, then got both feet inbounds with 24 seconds left.
However, the extra point was blocked, and after Wisconsin's Philip Welch missed a 49-yard field goal with time running out, the Badgers took a 14-9 lead into the break.
But the game did not stay close for long, as Wisconsin dominated the third quarter with two long scoring drives. On the half's opening possession, the Badgers went 64 yards in 11 plays and melted 5 1/2 minutes off the clock. White capped the march with an eight-yard touchdown run.
After Minnesota punted, Wisconsin used up another five minutes on an 86-yard drive that Clay ended by plowing into the end zone from four yards out. It gave the Badgers a 28-9 lead with 1:50 remaining in the frame.
"You just got to make the plays; you got to stop the run," said Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster. "That's the basic premise on which we live by defensively, and we certainly didn't get the job done there in the third quarter. They just ran the ball that well against us, and that's really disappointing."
Minnesota was the beneficiary of a roughing-the-kicker call on its next drive, but still had to punt less than a minute into the fourth quarter. Wisconsin again scored, as Clay's eight-yard run capped an 80-yard march with 11:55 to play.
The Gophers countered with a quick score, as Weber found Da'Jon McKnight for a 22-yard touchdown with 11:11 on the clock. But the deficit was too much for Minnesota.
White found the end zone again with 6:39 left, though the two-point conversion failed, and Weber completed the scoring with five minutes to play on a 29-yard strike to McKnight.
Saturday's game was the 120th meeting between the teams. Minnesota holds a 59-53-8 advantage in the series, which is the most-played rivalry in the FBS. With the exception of 1906, it has been played continuously since 1890...Wisconsin has won 14 of the last 16 meetings...Wisconsin outgained Minnesota by a 473-345 margin and controlled the game by holding the ball for more than 34 minutes.
10/09 18:08:24 ET