GAMEDAY College Football

Minnesota 23, Wisconsin 13

(AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

AP Sports Writer

MINNEAPOLIS - Minnesota's fans gleefully converged on the field as Paul Bunyan's Axe was slowly paraded through the crowd, eager for a peek at this long-sought trophy that has gone so often to Wisconsin.

The Gophers' defense swarmed the field like that all afternoon.

Tanner Morgan overcame an interception that was returned for a first-half touchdown, leading three scoring drives after halftime to take down the 18th-ranked Badgers in a 23-13 victory that regained the Axe and gave Iowa the Big Ten West Division title.

"We all put a ton into it. I'm just so proud that they have a big reward for it," Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck said.

The Badgers had only 160 total yards over the final three quarters and three points after halftime. They turned the ball over on downs on their last two possessions, and the Gophers got to sprint to the end zone to hoist the 73-year-old trophy on their home field for the first time since 2003. The rap song "Jump Around" played over the speakers in a taunt of Wisconsin's home-game anthem.

"Nobody wants to be the team that loses the Axe, so it's truly disappointing," Badgers outside linebacker Noah Burks said.

Collin Larsh made two field goals for Wisconsin, but he had a 48-yard try - four yards beyond his career long - bounce off the crossbar early in the fourth quarter. Minnesota went the other way for Matthew Trickett's third field goal of the game to put the stamp on it.

Morgan went 11 for 16 for 199 yards and a third-quarter touchdown pass to Chris Autman-Bell, but the defense stole the show. The Gophers (8-4, 6-3) delivered the kind of stifling performance by their defense the Badgers (8-4, 6-3, No. 14 CFP) were so used to demoralizing their opponents with.

Freshman standout Braelon Allen was limited to 47 yards on 17 rushes. He topped the 100-yard mark in each of the last seven games, all wins for Wisconsin. The Badgers had 62 rushing yards, after averaging 269 yards on the ground during their winning streak.

"We hit them low. We swarmed. There wasn't many broken tackles, and if guys got a hand on them, they held on for dear life and everybody rallied around him," Fleck said.

Over the last 23:05 of game time, Allen had just two carries for minus-2 yards. Defensive coordinator Joe Rossi sent a flurry of early down blitzes that caught the Badgers off guard.

"They showed a lot of stuff that we hadn't seen all year as a offense and a lot of stuff that wasn't on tape," Allen said.

Wisconsin went 4 for 14 on third down conversions - and 1 for 8 on third-and-4-plus-yards.

"The biggest thing was just not getting in a rhythm. They're a good defense, but we've all got to execute together and truly move the ball one first down at a time," quarterback Graham Mertz said.


Scott Nelson returned a tipped-ball interception 25 yards for a touchdown for the Badgers early in the second quarter to give them a 10-3 lead.

"My teammates had my back the whole time," said Morgan, who moved into second place on the program's all-time list with 56 career touchdown passes.

Justin Walley, who had two pass interference penalties while covering Kendric Pryor, wrestled away a catch by Pryor for his first career interception at the Wisconsin 28 early in the third quarter.

Morgan hit tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford for 26 yards to the 2 on the next play. Then Ky Thomas ran it in for a 13-10 lead with eight offensive linemen blocking on the play. The Gophers had five scoring drives of 50-plus yards.

Even by settling for a field goal, the Gophers served notice on their first possession they weren't going to go quietly. Wisconsin also lost safety Collin Wilder, who had two interceptions against Nebraska last week, after the first snap because of an automatic-ejection targeting foul for leading with his helmet on Autman-Bell.

"We didn't play to our potential and what we could have done. I think we left a lot of meat on the bone as the term goes," Badgers linebacker Leo Chenal said.

Scoring Summary
First Quarter WiscMinn
Minn FG 7:29 Matthew Trickett 28 yd FG 0 3
Second Quarter WiscMinn
Wisc FG 12:37 Collin Larsh 25 yd FG 3 3
Wisc TD 12:22 Scott Nelson 25 yd interception return (Collin Larsh kick) 10 3
Minn FG 8:19 Matthew Trickett 31 yd FG 10 6
Third Quarter WiscMinn
Minn TD 13:24 Ky Thomas 2 yd run (Matthew Trickett kick) 10 13
Wisc FG 6:35 Collin Larsh 28 yd FG 13 13
Minn TD 1:56 Chris Autman-Bell 27 yd pass from Tanner Morgan (Matthew Trickett kick) 13 20
Fourth Quarter WiscMinn
Minn FG 6:08 Matthew Trickett 36 yd FG 13 23
Team Stats
  Wisconsin Minnesota
First downs 17 16
  Rushing 5 6
  Passing 7 8
  Penalty 5 2
3rd Down Efficiency 4-14, 29% 5-11, 45%
4th down efficiency 1-3, 33% 0-0, -%
Rushes-Yards 22-62 37-75
Passing Yards 171 199
Return Yards 80 49
Completions-Attempts-Int 21-38-1 11-16-1
Sacks-Yards Lost 0-0 3--18
Punts 3 3
Punts-Average 41.7 37.7
Fumbles Lost 1-0 1-0
Penalties - Yards 8-73 7-82
Time of Possession 29:50 30:10
Wisconsin Passing
Player Cmp Att Yds TDs Int
G. Mertz 21 38 171 0 1
Minnesota Passing
Player Cmp Att Yds TDs Int
T. Morgan 11 16 199 1 1
Wisconsin Rushing
Player Carries Yds Avg TDs
B. Allen 17 47 2.8 0
G. Mertz 3 9 3.0 0
B. Schipper 1 5 5.0 0
D. Davis III 1 1 1.0 0
Minnesota Rushing
Player Carries Yds Avg TDs
K. Thomas 18 55 3.1 1
M. Irving 12 39 3.3 0
T. Morgan 5 -11 -2.2 0
Wisconsin Receiving
Player Rec Yds Avg TDs
D. Davis III 5 60 12.0 0
K. Pryor 5 33 6.6 0
J. Ferguson 4 27 6.8 0
B. Schipper 2 22 11.0 0
C. Dike 1 17 17.0 0
B. Allen 4 12 3.0 0
Minnesota Receiving
Player Rec Yds Avg TDs
B. Spann-Ford 3 62 20.7 0
M. Irving 2 39 19.5 0
C. Autman-Bell 2 37 18.5 1
D. Wright 1 27 27.0 0
D. Jackson 2 26 13.0 0
M. Brown-Stephens 1 8 8.0 0
Wisconsin Interceptions
Player Int Yards
S. Nelson 1 25
Minnesota Interceptions
Player Int Yards
J. Walley 1 0
Wisconsin Punting
Player Punts Yards Avg
A. Vujnovich 2 96 48.0
C. Schlichting 1 29 29.0
Minnesota Punting
Player Punts Yards Avg
M. Crawford 3 113 37.7
Wisconsin Punt Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
Minnesota Punt Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
B. Annexstad 1 0 0
Wisconsin Kick Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
S. Bracey 3 55 18.3
Minnesota Kick Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
M. Irving 2 39 19.5
P. Howard 1 10 10.0
Wisconsin Missed FG
Player Length
C. Larsh 48
Minnesota Missed FG
Player Length