Rapid Reaction: Wisconsin pummels Minnesota, Badgers punch ticket to B1G title game
Final score: #12 Wisconsin 38 #8 Minnesota 17
Brief recap: The battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe and the B1G West was interesting through one half. Minnesota opened the scoring with a 51-yard touchdown pass from Tanner Morgan to Rashod Bateman. But Wisconsin answered right back, scoring the next 10 points and taking 10-7 lead into halftime. The final 30 minutes belonged to the Badgers, though. Wisconsin outscored Minnesota 28-3 in the second half, thanks to a 47-yard pass from Jack Coan to Quintez Cephus and a 26-yard run by Kendric Pryor. Jonathan Taylor scored both touchdowns in the fourth quarter against Minnesota, giving the Badgers a 38-10 advantage midway through the quarter and essentially icing the game. While Minnesota’s passing attack was strong all season long, it was no match for the elements and Wisconsin’s stingy defense.
Key moment: Minnesota failed to find the end zone after a 14-play, 71-yard drive, turning it over on downs while trailing Wisconsin 24-10. Six plays later, the Badgers found their way across the goal line for another touchdown, giving Wisconsin a three-touchdown advantage in the fourth quarter.
Key stat: Wisconsin completely shut down Minnesota’s rushing attack, holding the Gophers to 76 yards on the ground. That allowed the Badger defense to focus on the passing game and take away some of the Gophers’ key receivers.
Key player: Jack Coan had a stellar performance in the rivalry game, completing 15-of-22 attempts for 280 yards and two touchdowns. That took a lot of pressure off of Taylor, and really allowed Wisconsin’s offense to exploit the Minnesota defense in multiple ways. It was exactly what the Badgers needed from their quarterback.
What it means for Minnesota: The Gophers won’t be competing for a B1G title this year, but that shouldn’t eliminate all the success this team has enjoyed on the field. P.J. Fleck’s bunch will finished the year 10-2 with a spot in the College Football Playoff rankings. That’s incredibly impressive at a place like Minnesota. Now, the Gophers will get to enjoy a warm-weather bowl game and shoot for that 11th win.
What it means for Wisconsin: Despite losses to Illinois and Ohio State earlier in the year, the Badgers are headed back to Indianapolis with a chance to win a B1G title. And Wisconsin has a chance to get redemption on the Buckeyes. After an 8-5 year a season ago, many thought the Badgers’ run of dominance in the B1G West might be over. They’ve proved that won’t be the case.