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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Wisconsin defense stifles Minnesota in Border Battle

Cornerback Antonio Fenelus (26) celebrates after a key second-quarter interception that put a stopper in the Gophers’ growing momentum.[/media-credit]

MINNEAPOLIS – Eight years running.

The Wisconsin football team proved it can win on the road in the Big Ten, gaining control of its own destiny and holding onto Paul Bunyan’s Axe for the eighth consecutive year Saturday after defeating rival Minnesota 42-13 at TCF Bank Stadium.

Senior Nick Toon said it never gets old carrying the Axe around.


“No, the axe represents a win, and that’s what you try to do every Saturday,” Toon said.

As the final seconds ticked off, the Badgers ran to the sidelines to collect the axe and tote it around the field and eventually “chop down” a goal post – as per usual.

Minnesota clearly wasn’t pleased, however, and quickly got chippy with the Badgers as they celebrated.

“It’s a rivalry, so it’s bigger than a person or anything else,” senior safety Aaron Henry said. “It’s just a rivalry. We go chop down the goalpost just like if they were in Camp Randall; they would have chopped down the goalpost. We were going down there to chop down the goalpost – standard, routine, something that we had been doing for the last couple of years. I guess they didn’t like it. That ain’t my problem.”

Defense dominates

While Minnesota was still able to put points on the board via a kick return and a faked field goal, Wisconsin’s defense was crushing. The Gophers only gained 156 total offensive yards, with 105 rushing and 51 passing. Minnesota didn’t get any first downs in the first quarter and only managed to gain nine the entire game.

Senior defense tackle Patrick Butrym emphasized the importance of the defense’s performance and senior cornerback Antonio Fenelus’ interception.

“It’s huge,” Butrym said. “Not technically a shutout, but the interception was so big because it was a point in the game when they started getting a little momentum and it was right before half.”

“I think at the end of the day, it’s not really about statistics to us as a defense,” Henry added. “We just want to go out there and play extremely well and allow everybody else, to allow our offense to go out there and make plays. It’s just been a blessing so far.”

Special teams struggles, again

UW didn’t really want to address it after an otherwise great game offensively and defensively, but the Badgers are still struggling with issues on special teams.

Each week since traveling to Michigan State, Wisconsin has given up some sort of big play on special teams in the form of blocked punts and kicks and lengthy kickoff and punt returns.

Opening the second half, Philip Welch kicked the ball to Minnesota’s four-yard line. Minnesota’s Duane Bennett collected it and took it 96 yards the other way for six points. No Badger was even within an arm’s reach of Bennett as he sprinted down the field and scored Minnesota’s final points of the game.

“We did a little bit of a personnel grouping, front side versus back side,” Bielema said. “We committed another two periods of practice to it, so we’ve got to get results. Again, it’s the inconsistency. … The first one of the second half, just can’t have it and we’ll continue to work and move forward.”

Fenelus, who missed a touchdown-saving tackle on the faked field goal, said he expects a lot of hard work during practice this week and knows the coaches will put it into focus.

“Kickoff, punt, we know we’ve got to do our job,” Fenelus said. “We’re going to stress it more and more during the week. The coaches are going to hit on it very hard because we know how important it is to put the defense in good field position.

“All those have to be able to say ‘I want to make this play. I want to make that tackle.’ That’s the biggest thing.”

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