1. Turnover, Turnovers, Turnovers
Wisconsin lost the turnover battle in the first half, with three costly fumbles which lead to a 14 point deficit. When the turnovers started going the other way, it was Wisconsin domination.
2. Jack Frost's Nipping
To Minnesota's credit, Wisconsin did not run the ball nearly as well as I expected and they did force the Badgers to go to the air. There were some inaccurate throws, but both quarterbacks seemed to handle the elements pretty well. I suspect however that both offensive coordinators were careful in what kinds of throws they attempted. You did not see too many out routes for instance. I still believe that this affected Minnesota more than Wisconsin however. With virtually no running game to speak of beyond quarterback Adam Weber, I think the Gophers would have completely aired it out without the weather factors. It is all speculation however.
3. Yards are Not Points
The Badgers settled for a field goal in the second half following a Gopher sack, and of course could have had a touchdown rather than a safety on the fumbled kickoff. The fumbles also were drive killers, as is usually the case. So I suppose they did leave points on the board, but with so many chances, it didn't matter all that much. They did convert a key 4th and goal for 6 and they did punch the ball in on a couple of key second half possessions. A mixed bag, but enough to win.
4. Gopher Targets?
Brandon Green stepped up and had a nice game for the Gophers, finding some seams behind the Badger defense. Still, you never got the sense they they were a big threat. Brinkley held up very well and it appeared on raw viewing that some of the deep coverage breakdowns early in the game were the responsibility of the safeties (as much as we can tell).
5. Spiral, Spiral, Toil and Trouble
One of Sherer's early throws sailed badly, but it was such a poor throw I don't know that it was wind related. His deep ball to Isaac Anderson that was dropped may have hung up a little bit as well, causing it to get to Anderson's shoulder pad as opposed to his hands (as Anderson did not adjust well to the ball). Overall however, I thought Sherer dealt with the elements pretty well. He wasn't always terribly accurate, but it didn't appear that the weather was a big issue. After some near picks early, he was much safer with the ball in the second half.
We certainly did not see the dominant ground game that I expected, though it did pick up as the game went along. Due to all of the turnovers, we also saw some advantageous field position lead to quick points, so the score was also a bit higher than I expected. I mentioned the punting in my pregame prediction and I thought Brad Nortman did a nice job with his placements and hang time for the most part, despite a very tough wind. All in all, the second half was closer to what I expected, but we should have learned to expect the unexpected with this team from time to time.