No.16 Wisconsin set the tone on its first drive, going 81 yards in over eight minutes, and never slowed down, racking up over 460 yards of total offense in a 42-13 blowout over Minnesota Saturday in front of 49,158 fans at TCF Bank Stadium.
The victory gives the Badgers (8-2, 4-2 Big Ten) their first true road victory of the season and allows them to keep possession of Paul Bunyan's Axe for a school record eighth straight season.
Senior quarterback Russell Wilson was again spectacular under center, completing his first 16 passes and throwing for 178 yards and four touchdowns in his first and only border battle. When Wisconsin wasn't running wild through the air, junior Montee Ball did the rest with an impressive 166-yard, three touchdown performance against one of the conference's worst rush defenses.
The Badgers never trailed and were rarely threaten meaning by the time Ball found the end zone for the third time, setting the conference's single season touchdown scoring record with No.27, over half of the stadium had already made their way for the exits.
Wisconsin's defense turned in one of its better performances, holding Minnesota (2-8, 1-5) to 156 total yards and registering an interception in the second quarter. All the point the Gophers could muster came on special teams, converting a fake field goal for a score and returning a kickoff 96 yards to open the second half.
With Penn State losing its first conference game at home to Nebraska and Purdue pulling the overtime upset at home against Ohio State, the Badgers will advance to Indianapolis for the inaugural Big Ten championship game by winning at Illinois (Nov. 19) and vs. Penn State (Nov. 26).
post-game audio and coverage from Badgernation.com, the Internet's No.1 subscriber site for Wisconsin football
14 plays, 81 yards, 8:08 TOP, 6:52 left
Montee Ball 2-yard pass from Russell Wilson (Philip Welch kick)
Key Play: Wilson was a perfect 6-for-6 on the drive and 3-for-3 on third down, but it was his first third down that set the tone. Facing a third-and-13, Wilson hit Jeff Duckworth on a slant over the middle for 17 yards, getting the ball to the UW 47.
3 plays, 51 yards, 1:24 TOP, 4:27 left
Montee Ball 13-yard run (Welch kick)
Key Play: Coming out throwing on the first play, Wilson hit Nick Toon coming out of his break on a sideline route, getting the ball to the senior receiver about a foot from the sideline for a 21-yard gain down to the Minnesota 30.
7 plays, 56 yards, 3:19 TOP, 14:54 left
Nick Toon 9 pass from Wilson (Welch kick)
Key Play: Minnesota entered the weekend tied for 10th in the Big Ten against the run (191.1 yards per game, 18 TDs). Ball might put them in the cellar. The junior rushed for 60 first-quarter yards, including 29 on a gap on the right side down to the Minnesota 16.
13 plays, 60 yards, 7:13 TOP, 7:41 left
Jordan Wettstein 5-yard run(kick failed)
Key Play: Wisconsin's defense came up stellar on three plays inside the 10-yard line to force a field goal attempt, but another special team's gaffe leads to points. On a fake field goal attempt, Antonio Fenelus had the kicker dead to rights, but missed the tackle attempt and watched from the field as Wettstein dove into the end zone.
5 plays, 78 yards, 1:38 TOP, :51 left
Nick Toon 17-yard pass from Wilson (Welch kick)
Key Play: The senior connection is back between Wilson and Toon. One play after connecting with Toon along the sideline for 21 yards, Wisconsin dialed up a similar play in one-on-one coverage, as a Toon stutter step made it wide open near the pylon.
1 play, 86 yards, :14 TOP, 14:46 left
Duane Bennett 96-yard kickoff return (Wettstein kick)
Key Play: Keeping with the season's theme, special teams comes back to bite Wisconsin in the butt. On the opening kickoff, not one Badgers special teamer got a hand on Bennett, who navigated his way into the end zone.
11 plays, 57 yards, 5:48 TOP, 8:58 left
Jacob Pedersen 3-yard pass from Wilson (Welch kick)
Key Play: Wisconsin is perfect in the red zone and it's easy to see why. With Minnesota looking run, a play-action pass was just what the doctor ordered for Wisconsin, as Pedersen was wide open three yards deep into the end zone.
7 plays, 50 yards, 3:43 TOP, 9:07 left
Ball 3-yard run (Welch kick)
Key Play: No one in the history of the Big Ten has scored more touchdowns in a single season, as he pushed his way into the end zone for the 27th time this season.
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