Badgers Beat Gophers, Get the Axe Again
MINNEAPOLIS (Gophersports.com) -- Dare Ogunbowale rushed for a career-high 155 yards and a touchdown and Wisconsin beat Minnesota for the 12th straight time, 31-21 on Saturday.
Taiwan Deal rushed for 90 and two scores and Wisconsin (9-3, 6-2 Big Ten) kept Paul Bunyan's Axe, which goes to the winner of the most-played rivalry game in college football.
Mitch Leidner was just 16 for 37 for 223 yards with a touchdown, three interceptions and a fumble for Minnesota (5-7, 2-6), which hasn't beaten its border rival since 2003. The Golden Gophers turned the ball over five times.
The Badgers rushed for minus-26 yards in a loss to Northwestern last week that ended a five-game winning streak. They rushed for 199 of their 257 yards in the first half against Minnesota.
As the clock ticked down, the Badgers grabbed the Axe from their sideline and brought it to the end zone opposite Minnesota's student section to mimic chopping down the goal post in a celebration that they are very familiar with.
The Gophers have not won the Axe since 2003, the longest drought for either side in the history of a 125-year-old rivalry. A win also would have made them bowl eligible, and they were hoping to get a boost from the return of former coach Jerry Kill, who was forced to retire earlier this season after being unable to control the seizures caused by his epilepsy.
Kill led the Gophers out of the tunnel and waved a "Jerrysota" flag just before kickoff, receiving a roaring ovation.
The Badgers' first play of the game was an interception that Briean Boddy-Calhoun returned 16 yards for a touchdown, so coach Paul Chryst kept it on the ground after that.
With four redshirt freshmen on the offensive line, the Badgers pulverized Minnesota's banged-up front seven with 22 rushes in the next 24 plays to take a 14-7 lead, getting 1-yard plunges from Alec Ingold and Deal to take control.
Rodney Smith scored on a 6-yard run to tie the game on the next possession for Minnesota, but Leidner's fumble set up Jones' second TD of the day and Ogunbowale scored on an 18-yard run around the left end just before halftime for a 28-14 lead.
Ogunbowale had not rushed for more than 56 yards in a game since Nebraska on Oct. 10 and the Badgers ranked an uncharacteristic 11th in the Big Ten in rushing offense with just 138.2 yards per game.
Joel Stave was 9 for 17 for 79 yards, but still won his 30th game, tying him with Brooks Bollinger for most by a Badgers quarterback.