2011 Wisconsin Badgerrs Football
Wisconsin Badgers @ Minnesota Golden Gophers Football Recap
Wisconsin 42, Minnesota 13
On a day when the focus of the Big Ten – and the national college football community – was entirely devoted to State College, Pennsylvania, a quiet but significant story played out in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. While most eyes were riveted on the drama at Penn State University and the emotional senior day clash between the Nittany Lions and the Nebraska Cornhuskers, another team in the Big Ten Leaders Division took a very big step to a season-long goal.
The Wisconsin Badgers (8-2, 4-2) trounced the Minnesota Golden Gophers in Minneapolis to keep Paul Bunyan's Axe for the eighth year in a row. With the win, Wisconsin regained the inside track to a division championship and a spot in the first-ever Big Ten Championship Game on the first weekend of December. Nobody expected Wisconsin to lose this contest, but on a day when Penn State and Ohio State both suffered high-impact losses, Wisconsin – on the ropes in the Leaders Division when Saturday began – has now reclaimed a position of leverage in the larger Big Ten race. The 12th day of November was a very good day to be a Badger… as a player, a coach, or as a partisan who watched the transformation of the league’s gridiron title chase.
Russell Wilson completed 16 of 17 passes for 178 yards and a season-high four touchdowns for Wisconsin. Montee Ball ran for 166 yards and two touchdowns, and also caught a touchdown pass, setting the Big Ten's single season touchdown record with 27. Ball is 12 touchdowns away from Barry Sanders' all-time NCAA record. Nick Toon caught eight passes for 100 yards and a pair of second-quarter touchdowns.
The Badgers led 28-6 at halftime. Wisconsin outgained Minnesota 461-156, and gained 29 first downs to the Gophers' nine. The Badgers had zero turnovers. James White rushed for 87 yards on 14 carries.
Both Gophers touchdowns came on special teams. Kicker Jordan Wettstein ran for a second-quarter touchdown on a fake field goal, and Duane Bennett returned the second-half kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown to cut the Badgers' lead to 28-13.
Wisconsin answered with a drive that lasted almost six minutes and ended with Wilson's fourth touchdown pass of the day, a three-yard toss to tight end Jacob Pedersen, giving Wisconsin a 35-13 lead.
Gophers quarterback MarQueis Gray struggled, completing just six of 14 pass attempts for 51 yards and an interception. Gray, battling a back injury, led Minnesota in rushing with 68 yards on 19 carries. Gray became the father of twin boys on Friday.
Wisconsin can reach the Big Ten championship game with wins over Illinois and Penn State in its final two games.