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Five takeaways from Minnesota's 31-17 loss to Wisconsin as the Badgers keep the Axe for the 13th straight season

Minnesota loses another second half lead during Big Ten play as the Gophers lose to Wisconsin for the 13th straight season in a 31-17 loss.

Minnesota loses another second half lead during Big Ten play as the Gophers lose to Wisconsin for the 13th straight season in a 31-17 loss. 

Here are five takeaways from the Gophers loss. 

1) A fourth quarter disaster

Minnesota's fourth quarter was an utter disaster. 

Gophers ran 17 plays in the fourth quarter for -7 total yards. 0 of 8 through the air with three interceptions and nine carries for -7 yards, and zero total points. 

The Badgers ran 19 plays in the fourth quarter for 152 total yards and ended up scoring 21 points. 

Minnesota lead 17-10 heading into the quarter. 

Just a complete collapse for Minnesota on the offensive side of the ball put the defense is too many bad situations. Wisconsin gained the momentum and never looked back. 

2) Leidner falls apart in the second half

An absolute tale of two half's for Gophers quarterback Mitch Leidner.

First half

Seven completions on 12 attempts for 111 yards with a passing touchdown and zero turnovers. 17 total points.

Second half

Two completions on 14 attempts for 47 yards with zero passing touchdowns and four interceptions. 0 total points.

For me anyways, the turning point of the game was Leidner's first interception of the game. Minnesota has it in the red zone on third down, and Leidner telegraphs one in to Rashad Still that's picked off in the end zone and the Gophers come away with no points.

If Minnesota doesn't turn the ball over there, it's at worst a field goal and Minnesota leads 20-10 with 2:47 left in the third quarter. That's a double digit lead with only 18 minutes left in the game and you have the momentum. Instead, it ends in zero points and a momentum shift.

Leidner's second interception was a mix-up at midfield between he and Carter and it ends up with Wisconsin working on a short field in the red zone. 

Leidner in the second half against Wisconsin in his last two games ends up with one passing touchdown and seven interceptions. 

3) Gophers offense struggles in the second half

Yes, Leidner did not play well in the second half, but he got very little help from his pass catchers all game. I'll go back and watch the film, but my guess is there's somewhere around six or seven drops on 26 attempts. 

Minnesota couldn't run the ball in the second half as well 13 carries for 17 yards. 

60 total yards on 31 offensive plays and zero points. 

Running backs had nowhere to go and Wisconsin could just tee up their pass rush getting four sacks in the half because of that.

Sure, you have to give some credit to this Badgers defense, but four turnovers in the second half on the road at Wisconsin isn't going to win you many games. 

4) Defense can't hold all game

Minnesota's defense played well enough to win tonight. 

Through three quarters, Minnesota had limited Wisconsin to 74 rushing yards on 29 attempts (2.6 ypc), 210 total yards and they were 3-9 on third down. 

Then the offense put the defense in bad spots, as two of the three touchdown drives in the fourth quarter started inside the red zone, and that's tough to stop against a Big Ten team, especially one like Wisconsin at home. 

10 tackles for loss including three from Rallis, two from KiAnte Hardin and Blake Cashman showed up again for 1.5 tackles for loss and .5 sacks. 

Momentum flipped and the defense tried to give the offense a jump start on Celestin forced fumble, but Minnesota's offense couldn't do anything with it. 

5) Decision time for Mark Coyle

Minnesota's athletic director Mark Coyle has to come out here in the next 48 hours with an extension, or with a statement that he's moving on. Claeys has two years on his deal after this season, and you have to extend him to either give recruits notice that you have faith in he and his staff, or you have to move on. 

Minnesota did win eight games this season in Claeys' first season, but they were 0-4 vs. top 30 AP teams and they lead in the second half in each one of those games, and in the fourth quarter in three of them, but were not able to close. 

Coyle has been extremely quiet throughout this entire 2016 regular season, so every Gopher fan will waiting to see what Coyle decides here soon.

I believe Coyle extends Claeys, but it made a lot of sense to do it last week after the Northwestern win if that was the decision. We'll have to see.


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