Minnesota Gophers DOMINATE Wisconsin Badgers 23-13 to win the Axe back, finish season 8-4.
The Minnesota Gophers DOMINATED their biggest rival, the Wisconsin Badgers, 23-13 to bring home Paul Bunyan's Axe and prevent the Badgers from winning the Big Ten West. Instead, our other rival, the Iowa Hawkeyes, will be facing the Michigan Wolverines for the Big Ten Title. All week we heard about how dominant Wisconsin's defense was, but it ended up being Minnesota's defense that swarmed and won the day. The Gophers offense put up 23 points on the Badgers' defense, while the Badgers offense was only able to score 6 points. The Badgers did have a pick-6, so their defense actually outscored their offense! In my preview this is what I had to say, "Everyone is picking Wisconsin to win this matchup, but you won't catch me doing something that dumb. I don't eat cheese or meat from Wisconsin because it's all horrible and people who say any of it is good are lunatics. Minnesota is going to end the season on a high note with stellar performances from Morgan, Autman-Bell, both RBs, and their defense and come out with a huge 34-23 victory to bring back the Axe and prevent Wisconsin from winning the Big Ten West!" I had predicted an 11 point victory for the Gophers, but a 10 point victory will do just fine. It's always so sweet to beat the Badgers, especially at home!
Tanner Morgan that we remember showed up as it seemed PJ Fleck and the OC dialed up more plays that were successful back in 2019 and Morgan's throws were much more accurate. The running game was a tough go as expected, but Ky Thomas was able to have a solid day including 1 TD. Chris Autman-Bell got loose for a TD on a play that he thrived with back in 2019, the short crossing route that takes him from the right side of the field all the way across the field and into the left corner of the endzone. The Gophers defense was swarming all day, not allowing a single touchdown as the Badgers were only able to get 2 drives to result in field goals. Everything was clicking and it was a beautiful game for Minnesota from start to finish. Here are some of the highlights from the day:
QB Tanner Morgan: 199 yards, 1 TD & 1 INT (pick-6)
RB Ky Thomas: 55 yards & 1 TD
RB Bucky Irving: 39 rushing yards, 39 receiving yards & 39 kick return yards
TE Brevyn Spann-Ford: 62 yards
WR Chris Autman-Bell: 37 yards & 1 TD
WR Dylan Wright: a huge 27 yard reception at a crucial moment
K Matthew Trickett: 3/3 FGs & 2/2 XPs
Defense: 1 INT (Justin Walley), 3 TFL, 2 QB hurries, 171 passing yards & 62 rushing yards
You just knew this was going to be a gritty, closely contested rivalry game when on the FIRST play of the game Badgers Safety, Collin Wilder, was ejected from the game for targeting after nearly paralyzing the Gophers best receiver with a full speed blow directly to Chris Autman-Bell's helmet. Wisconsin set the tone with that dirty hit, but the Gophers stayed composed and showed everyone that they were the better team when it was all said and done. The Gophers defense were able to force a missed field and back to back turnover on downs for the final few Badger drives before Tanner Morgan was able to take 2 final kneel downs to end the game. The Gophers players then rushed to the endzone to TAKE BACK Paul Bunyan's Axe! The fans then rushed the field as to celebrate the monstrous victory over the bitter rival. Then the funniest thing happended... The PA announcer goes "Ladies and gentleman, may I have your attention.." and proceeded to play House of Pain's song Jump Around, the song Wisconsin plays at the end of the 3rd quarter during home games, and the entire stadium went crazy! I must say that was a brilliant troll to cap off a fantastic game for the Gophers. Also, Minnesota now owns the song Jump Around, it's our song now! Here are 20 pictures from the day and you should be able to click on them to see them larger:
What a wonderful way for the Gophers to finish the regular season! Next weekend will be all of the conference championships and then on Sunday afternoon, the CFP committee will announce the final 4 teams that will compete in the Final Four, the New Years 6 matchups, and then the rest of the 44 Bowl Game matchups. The 8-4 Minnesota Gophers finished 2nd place in the Big Ten West and are sitting just outside of the Top-25 . There does not seem to be any consensus among the prognosticators as to where the Gophers will end up for bowl season this winter, with Las Vegas, Phoenix, Nashville, Tampa, and New York all still on the table as possibilities. Either way, we have a lot to celebrate with this victory and hopefully the Gophers can ride this momentum into whoever they are matched up against in the bowl game about 1 month from now! Go Gophers!