MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota’s claim to Paul Bunyan’s Axe in the Wisconsin-Minnesota rivalry didn’t last long — one year to be exact.
The Badgers beat the Golden Gophers 38-17, Nov. 30 to take back the Axe after a one-year layover in Minneapolis. Jonathan Taylor scored three touchdowns — two rushing, one receiving.
The win also clinched the Big Ten West Division title for the Badgers, who finish conference play 10-2 — Saturday’s win serving as a tiebreaker with the 10-2 Golden Gophers.
Wisconsin will play Ohio State for the Big Ten Championship. It’ll be a rematch of the 2017 championship, which Ohio State won 27-21. It will be Wisconsin’s sixth appearance in the title game since it began being played in 2011 — the Badgers’ first since 2017.
Wisconsin went three-and-out to open the game, handing the ball over to Minnesota. It only took Minnesota two plays to open the afternoon’s scoring. Tanner Morgan completed a pass to Rashod Bateman for a 51-yard touchdown — just two minutes and 15 seconds into the game.
Neither team scored until the 9:01 mark of the second quarter. Wisconsin cornerback Caesar Williams intercepted Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan, setting his squad’s first points of the afternoon.
On the ensuing drive, Wisconsin kicker Zach Hintze made a 26-yard field goal. Eventually, the Badgers found the endzone — Jack Coan completed a 28-yard pass to Jonathan Taylor, giving the Badgers a 10-7 lead.
Quintez Cephus and Jack Coan connected on a 31-yard play minutes into the third. Later that same drive, the two made a bigger play — 47 yards to the endzone.
Minnesota responded with a field goal shortly after.
After a big kickoff return by Aron Cruickshank — to the Minnesota 39 — the Badgers needed just two plays to score again. The scoring play came on a 26-yard run from wide receiver Kendric Pryor.
Refusing to let off the gas, Wisconsin score another touchdown in the fourth. This time Jonathan Taylor scored on the ground, an 11-yard scamper.
Minutes later, Taylor did it again — scoring from 1-yard out.
The Golden Gophers scored with just over five minutes remaining in the game — a 12-yard touchdown pass from Morgan to wide receiver Tyler Johnson.