Gophers 23, No. 14 Wisconsin 13
The recap: For the second time in four years and the first time at home since 2003, the Gophers captured Paul Bunyan's Axe, defeating Wisconsin on Saturday at Huntington Bank Stadium and setting off a field-storming celebration.
The Gophers (8-4, 6-3 Big Ten) prevented their archrival from advancing to the Big Ten Championship game, and they did so with a dominant defensive effort. Minnesota's defense did not allow a touchdown, and the Gophers held Wisconsin to 62 rushing yards and only 47 yards on 17 carries by freshman phenom Braelon Allen. Cornerback Justin Walley's interception early in the third quarter was the game's pivotal play, setting up the first of Minnesota's two second-half touchdowns.
Passing game picks its big spots
Facing Wisconsin's stingy defense that ranked best in the country in total yards and rushing yards allowed, the Gophers knew they needed to do more than just run the ball. Quarterback Tanner Morgan completed 11 of 16 passes for 199 yards and a touchdown. On four drives that led to 20 points, Morgan had five completions of 20 or more yards and a touchdown, averaging 29.2 yards on those key throws.
Ferguson not a factor
Along with Allen, Wisconsin's go-to player on offense this season has been senior tight end Jake Ferguson, who entered the game with a team-high 39 catches for 390 yards and two TDs. He exited the game with four catches on six targets for 27 yards, with only one producing a first down.
Hot mic moment
During the wild postgame field-storming celebration, Gophers sixth-year senior tight end Ko Kieft, his joy and exuberance overflowing, had a Ralphie Parker moment and dropped the Queen Mother of all dirty words during a live radio interview. He immediately apologized before offering this thought of the game:
"We were just playing harder than they were,'' Kieft said, an assessment he had no need to fudge.
Up next: Bowl game, TBD
The Gophers' bowl destination is expected to be announced next Sunday, after the final College Football Playoff rankings are released at 11 a.m. Minnesota will be playing in a bowl for the 22nd time and carries a 9-12 record, with an active four-game bowl winning streak. It will be the third bowl appearance for the Gophers in coach P.J. Fleck's five seasons in Dinkytown.