In a come-from-behind effort, the Badgers capped their rally after "Jump Around" blared over the Camp Randall speakers to defeat Minnesota, 35-32, on Saturday.
The victory makes the Badgers bowl eligible, with the most likely destination being the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Ariz. It's the seventh consecutive season Wisconsin is bowl-eligible – the longest such streak in school history.
After losing three fumbles in the first half, the chances of Wisconsin retaining Paul Bunyan's Axe for the fifth straight year looked bleak. Down 21-7, the Badgers were in dire need of a second half comeback.
And while cutting the margin to 24-17 in the third quarter, Wisconsin still need a boost to capture the lead. That boost came from none other than House of Pain's "Jump Around," which is traditionally played before the fourth quarter at Camp Randall.
The whole stadium was into it and the players were, as well. Players from both sidelines started jumping during the song, which soon became a jump-off, with the Gophers and Badgers jawing at each other and inching further and further onto the field.
"They were jumping around, we were jumping around. All of a sudden, we were creeping out, they were creeping out," Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema said.
"It's an emotional thing," he added. "Our fans were into it. The way our crowd reacted to start the fourth quarter was huge, and some of our kids really fed off of it."
P.J. Hill punched in a one-yard touchdown to tie things up on the first drive of the fourth quarter, and then Wisconsin capitalized on a Minnesota miscue on the ensuing kickoff. A hit by UW cornerback Antonio Fenelus popped the ball out of Minnesota return man Troy Stoudermire's hands. Devin Smith had a chance to pounce on it for a touchdown, but it farted out of the endzone for a safety to give the Badgers a slim 26-24 lead.
"I thought we had a chance to get on the ball in the endzone and get seven points out of it rather than two," Bielema said. "But that's just a head coach being greedy."
But that wasn't the end of safeties for Wisconsin. On the Gophers' next possession, Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber was dragged down by Mike Newkirk for two more points. The last time the Badgers' recorded two safeties was versus UNLV in 2004.
John Clay would later score on a five-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 35-24, putting the game nearly out of hand with 6:59 remaining in the game.
While Minnesota would rally – scoring on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Weber to Shady Salamon and converting the two-point conversion to pull within 35-32 – the Gophers couldn't muster up anything when they got the ball back with 2:29 remaining. On fourth-and-four, the Badgers' defense hurried Weber into throwing an interception to Niles Brinkley, sealing the rivalry game victory for Wisconsin.
For Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster, the difference in Wisconsin's second half surge was getting pressure on the quarterback.
"Wisconsin pressured a little more in the second half," Brewster said. "They hardly blitzed, maybe one time, in the first half and in the second half they felt like they had to pressure to get to (quarterback) Adam (Weber) and we didn't do as well in holding up front."
Despite Wisconsin's disappointing record this season, there was no doubting the intensity of the rivalry game with Minnesota, and the importance of not losing the axe.
"I've been here for four years and playing against Minnesota is always special," UW quarterback Dustin Sherer said. "It doesn't matter what each team's record is because both teams are going to play hard.
"For us to battle back after committing three turnovers in the first half was important to the win."