Badger Football Preview : Wisconsin at Minnesota

Minneapolis, M.N. ~ For the first time in school history the Wisconsin Badgers are 11-0. Wisconsin has already cinched the Big 10 West and ill square of against Big 10 East winner, Ohio State in the Big 10 Championship Game.

But before Ohio State, the 5th ranked Badgers need to stay focused on their rival foe, the Minnesota Golden Gophers, in the Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe. Minnesota hasn’t won the Axe in 13 years and Wisconsin looks to make it 14 Saturday afternoon at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. If the Wisconsin Badgers can beat both Minnesota and the Buckeyes of Ohio State, they will most definitely be in the College Football Playoff.

The Wisconsin offense looks nothing new as they are carried by the run game. True freshman Jonathan Taylor is growing into a star for the Badgers. Coming into the season as a 5th string RB, Taylor has rushed for 1,657 yards and 12 touchdowns, and he is averaging an outstanding 7 yards a carry.  Bradrick Shaw, a sophomore with 4 touchdowns of his own, will get plenty of playing time either blocking or filling in when Taylor needs a little break. Another RB who has made a name for himself is Garrett Groshek. He has had his playing time mostly due to injuries, but he has picked up 257 yards and two touchdowns.

One of the reasons the Badgers running backs have always been so good is because of their offensive line. Third year starters Michael Deiter and Beau Benzshawel lead the O-Line. Wisconsn has always hada pretty good line, but Chryst transformed it. When he arrived in Madison in 2015, the Badgers were averaging 150 yardsper game, but now the offensive line is paving the way for the running backs who now average 239 yards per game.

Since the running game has always been so good by Wisconsin, Alex Hornibrook gets overshadowed. He has thrown an interception in every but two games this season, but he has also thrown a touchdown pass in every game except one. Wisconsin’s top receiver, Quintez Cephus, went down three weeks ago against Indiana on a knee injury. Cephus 30 receptions, 501 receiving yards, and six touchdowns before his season ending injury. Wisconsin has other threats however in Troy Fumagalli, the fan favorite tight end who has 36 receptions and has picked up 460 yards to go along with three touchdowns. A.J. Taylor has stepped up nicely to the Cephus injury and had a big game against Michigan last week, where he had three reception, 79 yards, and a touchdown.

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Wisconsin looks to keep Paul Bunyan’s Axe tomorrow against Minnesota.

Wisconsin’s defense comes into Axe Week with their defense top five in College Football. Minnesota probably won’t do much against the ferocious Badger defense. Even without captain linebacker Jack Cichy,who tore his ACL in August, Wisconsin has top-ranked rushing defense in the nation. Linebackers T.J. Edward and Ryan Connelly lead the linebacking corps for the Badgers, both with extreme athleticism and great instincts. Senior Garrett Dooley leads Wisconsin in sacks, with 7.5.

Senior lineman Alec James Conor Sheehy do their part for the LB’s eating the run and getting to the quarterback. They have combined for seven sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss.

Wisconsin also is extremely good in the pass defense category too. On average, the secondary only allows 167 passing yards a game with 15 combined interceptions. D’Cota Dixon, the secondary’s leading tackler is questionable to play Saturday with a right leg injury. Natrell Jamerson’s intense play has given him more playing time and he has ine pass break-ups and two interceptions. Derrick Tindal and Nick Nelson boost the Badgers at cornerback.


Wisconsin’s defense is too much for the young and rebuilding Gophers as they will have to wait another year for the Axe.

Wisconsin 28

Minnesota 3

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By Jacob Szczap

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