After maintaining possession of Paul Bunyan’s Axe for 14 straight seasons, the Wisconsin Badgers allowed the Minnesota Gophers to reclaim it. The Badgers couldn’t get anything going and fell to the Gophers 37-15 on Senior Day at Camp Randall Stadium.
The Badgers were once projected to win the Big Ten West and compete for the Big Ten Championship. Instead, they lost for the fifth time (7-5, 5-4 Big Ten) this season and fourth time in Big Ten play.
The Badgers lost to the Gophers for the first time since 2003 and the first time at home since 1994.
Minnesota (6-6, 3-6) became bowl eligible with the victory.
Alex Hornibrook returned to the Wisconsin lineup after leaving the Rutgers game on November 3 with his second concussion of the season. Hornibrook started fast but couldn’t keep it going, completing 22 of 33 for 189 yards, 2 TD’s and 3 interceptions. He also lost a fumble.
But Hornibrook had plenty of help. Several players had their hands in turnovers, penalties and dropped passes.
Wisconsin sophomore running back Jonathan Taylor entered the day with 1,869 rushing yards. He had 19 carries for 120 yards on Saturday with no touchdowns. Taylor joined Iowa State’s Troy Davis, TCU’s Ladanian Tomlinson and Memphis’ De’Angelo Williams as the only backs to break the 1,900-yard mark in consecutive seasons.
Minnesota’s Mohamed Ibrahim rushed 26 times for 121 yards and a touchdown for the Gophers.
The Axe left Madison with the Gophers. The Badgers immediately talked about the motivation to regain possession next year. In between then and now, the Badgers will get to play in a bowl game and they’ll need to clean up their act or risk another loss to end their season.