For the first time since 2003, Paul Bunyan’s Axe is on its way to Minneapolis.
Minnesota (6-6, 3-6) controlled today’s game at Camp Randall Stadium from start to finish, ending a 14-game losing streak to Wisconsin. The 22-point victory is the Gophers’ largest margin of defeat over UW since 1969.
The Badgers fell into serious trouble when Minnesota returned a punt 69-yards to take a 17-0 lead with 1:05 remaining in the second quarter.
The return came less than two minutes after Alex Hornibrook threw a brutal interception while UW was driving. The Gophers took advantage of the interception by scoring a touchdown to go up 10-0.
The Badgers showed some life and scored a crucial touchdown on a Jake Ferguson grab with one second remaining before halftime.
UW tried to carry that confidence into the third quarter, going for it on 4th & 4 from the Minnesota 44-yard line. But Hornibrook felt immediate pressure on a blitz and threw on incompletion. Minnesota took advantage and took a 20-7 lead on a field goal.
Hornibrook threw his second interception with 5:54 left in the third quarter, when he rolled out on a third and 10 before forcing a throw to Kendric Pryor. Pryor tipped the ball up and Minnesota grabbed it. That led to another Gophers field goal.
After a UW three-and-out, Minnesota ate up over nine minutes of game clock over 14 plays, but ended up missing a field goal with 5:37 left and a 16-point deficit for UW.
Two plays later, Hornibrook lost a fumble. Minnesota two plays later had a 23-yard touchdown run to go up 30-7 and put the game away.
Junior quarterback Alex Hornibrook finished 22-of-33 passing for 189 yards with two touchdowns, three interceptions and one fumble.
Minnesota scored 24 points off of Hornibrook’s four turnovers.
The Badgers have grossly underachieved this season. Today, an early missed field goal, penalties, dropped passes, a punt returned for a touchdown and turnovers did them in. But those have been issues that UW has struggled with all season.
Alex Hornibrook is not a good quarterback and I imagine there will be a quarterback competition when Spring Practice rolls around. It’s a good thing Graham Mertz will be coming in next season.
Beau Benzschawel was asked how long not being able to chop the goal posts — a tradition for the seniors — will stay with him, he replied “probably my whole life.”