MINNEAPOLIS – Against its oldest rival, the University of Wisconsin dusted off a long-lost friend to continue Minnesota’s misery.
Finally developing some rhythm in the running game, the Badgers rushed for a 257 yards and scored four first-half touchdowns in the first half that laid the foundation for a 31-21 victory over Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium Saturday in the regular season finale.
It’s the 12th straight win for Wisconsin (9-3, 6-2 Big Ten) over its border rival, the sixth straight UW victory in the series by double figures.
The Badgers came into the regular season finale last in rushing in Big Ten conference games, averaging 109.6 per game. Wisconsin nearly surpassed that number after 15 minutes, as the Badgers ran for 100 of their 199 first-half yards behind an offensive line made up of four redshirt freshmen.
Junior Dare Ogunbowale ran for a career-high 155 yards – 131 in the first half – and an 18-yard touchdown that made the score 28-14 at the end of the first half. Freshman Taiwan Deal scored a pair of touchdowns (his first scores since Sept.26) and Alec Ingold also punched one in.
It was old school Wisconsin football, as the Badgers dominated time of possession – 40:35 to 19:25 – and saw Minnesota (5-7, 2-6) run only six plays in the first quarter and nine in the third.
Wisconsin’s defense gave up 71 yards on a touchdown drive in the second quarter but only 60 yards on the next seven drives. On the three drives following the score (excluding the one to end the half), the Badgers forced three turnovers that led to 17 points. UW ended the game with five takeaways and held Minnesota to 276 yards of offense.
By the time the Gophers found the end zone again late in the fourth quarter, most of their fans had already cleared out, leaving Badgers fans to start the celebration.
Finishing 4-0 on the road in Big Ten play, Wisconsin will await its postseason bowl destination.
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Briean Boddy-Calhoun 16-yard interception return (Ryan Santoso kick)
Key Play: On an intended wide receiver bubble screen on the first offensive play, Boddy-Calhoun broke inside at the snap, causingreceiver Alex Erickson to miss the block and Joel Stave to telegraph an interception right into his chest.
10 plays, 67 yards, 5:04 TOP, 8:23 left
Alec Ingold 1-yard run (Rafael Gaglianone kick)
Key Play: On a drive where UW ran nine times for 41 yards, it was an 11-yard completion from Stave to Erickson on an our route on third-and-7 early in the drive that kept things moving.
14 plays, 73 yards, 7:15 TOP, 14:57 left
Taiwan Deal 1-yard run (Rafael Gaglianone kick)
Key Play: Wisconsin is pounding the rock but the Badgers are picking up first downs through the air. On third-and-five, Stave dialed up Erickson again on a crossing route for a 13-yard gain to the Minnesota 19.
7 plays, 71 yards, 4:23 TOP, 10:34 left
Rodney Smith 6-yard run (Ryan Santoso kick)
Key Play: Mitch Leidner finally got the passing game for Minnesota after throwing for only seven yards in the first quarter, hitting Miles Thomas for 27 yards down to the UW 37.
4 plays, 34 yards, 1:36 TOP, 4:56 left
Taiwan Deal 13-yard run (Rafael Gaglianone kick)
Key Play: After being on the wrong end of the turnover battle last week, the Badgers got the margin back to zero when Joe Schobert knocked the ball loose from Mitch Leidner on a quarterback keeper and into the hands of cornerback Darius Hillary at the Minnesota 37.
9 plays, 21 yards, 4:20 TOP, 8:27 left
FG Rafael Gaglianone 46
Key Play: Wisconsin continues to cash in Minnesota turnovers, as a T.J. Watt tipped pass resulted in an easy interception falling into the hands of Joe Schobert. The fifth-year senior originally ran the interception back for a touchdown, but the play was called back to the Minnesota 48 after a targeting penalty on Jack Cichy.
5 plays, 72 yards, 1:09 TOP, 5:37 left
Drew Wolitarsky 27-yard pass from Mitch Leidner (Ryan Santoso kick)
Key Play: Miscommunication shown in a bad way on two seniors in Wisconsin's secondary on Wolitarsky's touchdown, as Tanner McEvoy whiffed on the tackle and Darius Hillary got cut off in the process, allowing the junior receiver to easily run into the end zone.
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