Football: Minnesota takes Paul Bunyan’s Axe on Badgers’ home turf in 37–15 loss

Wisconsin mourns first border battle loss since 2003

· Nov 24, 2018 Tweet

Daniel Yun/The Badger Herald

The University of Wisconsin football team (7-5, 5-4 Big Ten) fell to the Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-6, 3-6 Big Ten) 37–15 Saturday afternoon at Camp Randall. The loss means the Badgers will forfeit their hold on the historic series record which is now tied 60-60-8, ending their 14 game win streak versus the Gophers.

The defeat caps one of the most disappointing regular seasons in Wisconsin football history. Ranked No. 4 entering the year and heralded as an early season College Football Playoff favorite, the season ended with the Badgers barely clinging to bowl eligibility.

With starting quarterback Alex Hornibrook returning from a concussion that sidelined him several weeks, many thought the Wisconsin offense could open up and succeed without putting as much pressure on star running back Jonathan Taylor. This, unfortunately, was not the case.

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Hornibrook struggled, going 22 for 33 for only 189 yards. He’d also record two touchdowns, three interceptions and a fumble on the day. His accuracy and decision making were shoddy at best.

Among the most head-scratching of these decisions was a throw completely out of the vicinity of wide receiver A.J. Taylor on a key fourth down conversion attempt to start the second half. Though he played the whole game, the poor performance was enough to force backup quarterback Jack Coan to warm up on the bench by the end of the third quarter.

But that’s not to say the rest of the team did not contribute their share of mistakes in the loss. The Badgers had four fumbles on the day, though the team was lucky enough to land on three of them, the special teams allowed a wide open lane for a punt return touchdown and Badger receivers dropped several routine passes in critical situations.

Perhaps the one sign of life the Badgers showed in the game was their touchdown to end the second quarter. With just six seconds left head coach Paul Chryst called on Hornibrook to make a gutsy pass toward tight end Jake Ferguson who hauled in the score near a crowd of defenders.

Unfortunately for Wisconsin, this was not enough to shift momentum. Minnesota blew the game open in the second half, outscoring the Badgers 20–8 with the Badgers’ lone touchdown coming in garbage time in the fourth quarter.

Credit goes to Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck, who had Wisconsin’s number all afternoon. The coach’s most impressive call may have come on a fourth-and-inches play in the second quarter. After getting a bad spot to make it fourth down, Fleck called an option run allowing Mohamed Ibrahim to score with an open lane to the left giving the Gophers an early 10–0 lead.

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With the win, the Gophers become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2016. Wisconsin, on the other hand, cost themselves a chance at an upper-tier bowl game with the unexpected defeat. This means the Badgers will likely play in a mid-tier bowl like the Redbox Bowl in Santa Clara, the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville or the Pinstripe Bowl in New York.

Though disillusioning, a loss to Minnesota seems like a fitting way for the Badgers to end a regular season characterized by unmet expectations.


This article was published Nov 24, 2018 at 7:10 pm and last updated Nov 26, 2018 at 5:40 pm


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