Report Card: Wisconsin

We grade how Minnesota offensively, defensively, special teams and the coaching staff performed against Wisconsin in their 20-7 home loss to the Badgers

Offense- In a rivalry game like this, you know both teams were going to be amped up. The man that was either going to make or break the Badgers was Minnesota quarterback Philip Nelson. He didn't have a good game by going 7-23 passing for 83 yards. He had a QBR of just 6.2, which is horrible. He looked out of sorts and with his inability to seem as a passing threat, Wisconsin was never worried of getting beat through the air. There were also a lot of drop balls, which you can't have when your quarterback is struggling as well. The running attack of David Cobb was shut down as the junior tailback carried the ball 17 times for only 68 yards. What made this offense effective for most of the season has been the ability to gain those tough 4 yards and having the threat of making the big pass. Neither of those things were happening as the Gophers had a total of 185 yards for the day and only had the ball for about 25 minutes, which was 10 minutes less than the Badgers. This game wasn't a pretty one on many stats as Minnesota was 3-13 on 3rd down conversations and 1-3 on 4th down conversations as well. The most telling number has to be 3. The Gophers fumbled and lost the ball 3 times, which is a killer and was something that they weren't losing in previous games in the turnover battle. In a defense battle like this game, you can't help your opponent by constantly giving them the ball and that is what the Gophers did against a tough minded 3-4 Badger defense.

Grade: F

Defense- This unit lived up to the big task of trying to stop the Wisconsin offense, which nobody had done all season. The Gophers limit the Badgers to season lows in points at 20 and total yardage at 324 yards. Wisconsin was only 4-16 on 3rd down conversations and 1-2 on 4th down conversations. Unlike Nelson, Badger quarterback Joel Stave was effective passing the ball by being 16-26 for 127 yards, a touchdown and a interception. That interception was a pick six when in the first half the Gophers were able to get pressure on Stave, which resulted in a wobbly soft throw over the middle and was picked off and taken to the house by linebacker Aaron Hill. Those were the only points Minnesota got on the day and the talented running back in James White and Melvin Gordon combined to rush for 194 yards on 38 carries and a touchdown while averaging a little over 5 yards a carry. If you had told me that Wisconsin was only going to score 20 points in the game, I might have been really close to pull the trigger on a Gopher victory, so the defensive unit showed up and played a very solid game.

Grade: A-

Special Teams- Punter Peter Mortell was busy, but good as he had 6 punts total for 24o yards and a long of 59 yards. In a game like this, you need a spark from somewhere and that could come off a long kickoff return or punt return, but that didn't happen. They couldn't generate any big plays to set up the offense and Minnesota had long fields to drive all day. Still, you can't complain with the special teams as they didn't have any costly turnovers, which could have been devastating, so good, but they just weren't great.

Grade: B

Coaching- Many didn't even expect the Gophers to be in this position this late in the season by even having a chance to get a share of the division title and possibly slide in to go to Indy for the conference championship game. I wished the coaching staff made some changes on offense and try to mix things up when you just can't get anything going. However, the defense came to play and were impressive to only give up 20 points to Wisconsin. The program is in the right direction with Coach Kill and his coaching staff despite the loss to the Badgers.

Grade: C

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