Breakdown & Prediction - Minnesota

BadgerNation breaks down No.14 Wisconsin's matchup with No.22 Minnesota at Camp Randall Stadium this afternoon and offer our prediction.

No.22 Minnesota (8-3, 5-2 Big Ten) vs. No.14 Wisconsin (9-2, 6-1 Big Ten)

Date/Time - Saturday, November 29 at 2:30 p.m. CT

Stadium –Camp Randall Stadium (80,321/FieldTurf)

Television –Big Ten Network (Kevin Kugler, Glen Mason, Lisa Byington)

Radio - Wisconsin Radio Network (Matt Lepay, Mike Lucas, Mark Tauscher, Scott Nelson)

Series –Minnesota leads 59-56-8 (Wisconsin leads 32-22-6 in Madison)

Last Meeting - Wisconsin won, 20-7, on November 23, 2013 in Minneapolis

Series Notes

Wisconsin and Minnesota will meet for the 124th time — extending the most-played rivalry in the FBS — but for just the fifth time with both teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. The Badgers claimed the first four such meetings in 1954, 1962, 1999 and 2005.

Since the introduction of Paul Bunyan’s Axe as the rivalry’s prize in 1948, the Badgers lead the series, 39-24-3.

Wisconsin has won 10 straight games against Minnesota — the longest win streak by either team in the history of the series, which dates back to 1890 — and 17 of the last 19 meetings between the rivals. The Badgers’ 10 straight wins over Minnesota represent the third-longest active win streak by a Big Ten team over a conference foe.

The Badgers have won their last nine games against Minnesota at Camp Randall Stadium, with the Gophers’ last win in Madison a 17-14 triumph in 1994.

Wisconsin Notes

In his last seven games against teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, Melvin Gordon is averaging 172.0 rushing yards per game and 9.95 yards per carry. He has rushed for at least 140 yards in his last four games against ranked teams.

Gordon is tied with Badgers legend Ron Dayne for the Big Ten’s single-season rushing record at 2,109 yards. He became the fastest player in NCAA history to reach 2,000 yards in a season by doing so on his 241st carry — a career-long 88-yard breakaway at Iowa.

Wisconsin’s defense is allowing just 259.3 yards per game to rank No. 2 in the FBS. The Badgers also rank No. 3 in scoring defense (16.1 ppg), No. 5 in rushing defense (97.1 ypg) and No. 3 in passing defense (162.2 ypg) — the only team in the nation to rank in the top five of all four major categories.

Gaglianone has converted 15 of 18 field goal attempts this season, and his field-goal percentage of 83.3% would rank in a tie for third in school history (Philip Welch, 20-for-24, 2008).

With Wisconsin utilizing a two-quarterback system over its last six games, juniors Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy have combined to complete 60.8% of their passes for 132.2 yards per game, 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. In addition, McEvoy has rushed for 276 yards on just 26 attempts (10.6 average) and scored four rushing TDs.

Minnesota Notes

The Gophers are 8-3 this year after finishing last season with an 8-5 record. Minnesota has now posted back-to-back eight win seasons for the first time since 2002 (8 wins) and 2003 (10 wins). This is also only the fifth time since 1906 that Minnesota has won eight games in consecutive seasons (1934-35, 1940-41 and 1960-61).

Minnesota’s 14-point comeback at Nebraska (Gophers trailed 21-7 at halftime and Nebraska was 35-1 under Bo Pelini with a 10+ point halftime lead) was its largest comeback win since it was down 14-0 in the first quarter at Northwestern on Oct. 4, 2003 (won 42-17).

Maxx Williams has proven to be one of the top tight ends in the nation. He was named a semifinalist for the John Mackey Award, and leads the Gophers in receptions (28), receiving yards (418), receiving touchdowns (7) and receiving yards per game (41.8). Williams accounts for 28.2 percent of the Golden Gophers' receiving yards and 63.6 percent of their receiving touchdowns.

Minnesota has scored 94 points off turnovers this year (average 8.5 per game), which ranks 15th in the nation (second in the B1G to Michigan State’s 103).

Sophomore Jalen Myrick leads the Big Ten (ranks eighth in the nation) with a 27.3 yard average on 16 kickoff returns this year. Myrick, who is the fastest Gopher on the team, also returned a kickoff for a 100- yard touchdown against Northwestern.

Prediction

Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon talked passionately last week about how the Badgers losing on senior day, not properly honoring a senior class that had won three straight Big Ten championship, stuck with him and still bothers him. Imagine what it will be like if UW not only loses on senior day this year, but loses its outright Big Ten West Division title, its spot in Indianapolis and Paul Bunyan’s Axe. It might be the most crippling loss of the Gary Andersen era.

I don’t see a loss happening to the hated Gophers, who are much better than some of the teams that have come to Madison in the past. However, Minnesota likely won’t have tailback David Cobb and don’t have any solid backup behind him who can carry the load. Considering the Gophers have one of the worst passing offenses in the country, that’s disconcerting for Minnesota.

Badgers are 13.5-point favorite heading into the regular season finale. If UW can establish the run and the offense can limit the turnovers, this should be a day of celebration at Camp Randall, with Paul Bunyan’s Axe as the guest of honor … no matter where it hangs out before, during and after the game.

Wisconsin 31, Minnesota 17

Worgull's Predictions

Straight up: 9-2

Against the Spread: 5-5

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