Badgers dominate Minnesota, 38-17

Paul Bunyan’s Axe is coming back home to Madison.

The 12th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers scored touchdowns on five straight possessions on their way to a 38-17 victory over 8th-ranked Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium.

Game Balls:

Offense

Jack Coan and Quintez Cephus

All the attention this week was on Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan and his two dynamic wide receivers — Rashod Bateman and Tyler Johnson. While that trio had its moments, it was Coan and Cephus that delivered some of the biggest plays of the game.

On the first UW possession of the second half, the Gophers pinned the Badgers at their own 9-yard line. Instead of conservative play calling, Coan tossed a 31-yard completion to Cephus on first down. Two plays later, Coan dropped a beauty to the junior for a 47-yard touchdown.

Cephus finished with five catches for 114 yards and a touchdown, while Coan threw for 280 yards and two scores. On a day that shouldn’t have been conducive to the air game, UW found plenty of success because of those two.

Defense

Caesar Williams

The defense had been maligned in recent weeks, but they showed up against Goldy Gopher. That was especially true of the secondary. After freshman Semar Melvin got burned for a touchdown on the second offensive play for Minnesota, UW didn’t get beat down the field again. Time after time Morgan threw the ball up for his receivers and more times than not the Badgers were up for the challenge.

As for Williams, he caught an INT off a tipped pass in the first quarter, but saved his best work for late in the game. With Wisconsin leading 24-10, the Gophers tried to throw to Johnson on third and fourth down inside the 5-yard line, but Williams was able to break up both passes. He finished the day with four pass breakups and the Badgers finished with nine pass breakups as a team.

Special Teams

Isaac Guerendo

It was 17-10 in the third quarter when the Badgers decided it was time for Guerendo to get the ball for the first time in his college career. Normal return man Aron Cruickshank returned the kickoff to the right before dishing the ball to the redshirt freshman on a reverse. Guerendo used his track speed to go for 49 yards and set up another Wisconsin touchdown.

“That felt awesome,” Guerendo said. “It’s just good to be able to contribute in some way to get the axe back for those seniors.”

“We were coming in for one thing and that was to get the axe back where it belongs. We did that today,” UW left tackle Cole Van Lanen said.

With the win, the Badgers have now beaten Minnesota 15 of the last 16 meetings. UW now leads the all-time series once again (61-60-8).

Wisconsin has now won the Big Ten West three times in Paul Chryst’s five seasons as head coach.

Wide receiver AJ Taylor suffered a right leg injury and did not return. He was seen after the game in a walking boot and crutches.

ESPN’s College GameDay came to Minnesota for the first time. The Badgers won as the road team while GameDay was in town for the first time since beating Purdue in 2004.

Wisconsin (10-2, 7-2) will head to Indianapolis to face unbeaten Ohio State (12-0, 9-0) for the Big Ten Title next Saturday night. The Buckeyes beat the Badgers 38-7 in late October.

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