The Wisconsin Badgers and Minnesota Golden Gophers will play for the 120th time on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium, continuing the longest running college football rivalry in all the land. So, despite Minnesota coming in at 1-4 (0-1), it’s not going to be a cake-walk for the Badgers. Wisconsin comes in at 4-1 (0-1), fresh off a loss at Michigan State.
Both teams will be jacked up for the annual border battle as they go to war for the Paul Bunyan Axe. Minnesota leads the all-time series but the Badgers have won 13 of the last 15. As is the case with any rivalry, you can throw out the records and what has happened in the past.
On paper, this edition of the Minnesota-Wisconsin rivalry is probably the most one-sided it has been in some time. To put it bluntly, Minnesota is a bad football team right now. Before dropping a tough Big Ten opener to Northwestern, the Gophers suffered embarrassing losses to South Dakota and Northern Illinois.
The Gophers are lead by Senior quarterback Adam Weber, a four-year starter. Although Weber has put up decent numbers this year, many Gopher fans were not happy with Weber being named the starter going into the season. I can’t say I blame them. It’s kinda the situation where you say, “Hey, we’re going nowhere fast, why not player the younger guy so it can help us in the future”? Minnesota has a few play-makers on the offensive side of the ball as they’ll look to Duane Bennett and DeLeon Eskridge to carry the load against UW.
On defense, they have struggled. Every offensive unit has had their way this year against Minnesota as they yield over 400 yards per game to opponents. Essentially, they have had to replace 10 starters, no easy task for any coach at any level. A guy who they are excited about is junior linebacker Gary Tinsley. Tinsleyleads the Gophers with 32 tackles, including 5 for loss. Scott Tolzien should be able to get the Badgers air-attack back on track this week as Minnesota has registered just 3 sacks through 5 games, and that’s coming against the likes of South Dakota and Northern Illinois.
A couple things to look for if you are a Badger fan:
1) The play of John Clay and James White. There have been whispers of White replacing Clay as the featured back in Wisconsin’s offense. White has looked very impressive but I like the way he’s being used. Lets face it, last week the entire offense was out of whack. If you can’t throw the ball at all, teams are gonna start putting eight in the box, and that’s exactly what Michigan State did. I like White as a change-of-pace, home-run hitter type of guy right now. It’s a completely different style than what Clay and Montee Ball bring to the table.
2) Third-downs and fundamental football. Last week the Badgers got their tails whipped converting and defending in third-down situations. If they can dominate this aspect of the game, they’ll roll. We’re still waiting for the first game where they put everything together and crush an opponent (Austin Peay isn’t worthy). We’ll see if they can put it all together against a struggling Gopher squad.
My prediction: Wisconsin 34 Minnesota 20
About the Author
Written by Chad Seely
Hey sports fans! Welcome to my Wisconsin Badgers football blog. For any Badger scores, news or questions you may have, come check out this blog! For those who don't know me, I'm a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. I graduated in May 2009 with a Broadcast Journalism degree and returned in Fall 2009 to get a Minor in Multimedia which I completed in May 2010. In the summer, you can catch me on AM1230 WSBB, splitting time as the play-by-play announcer and color commentator for the Daytona Cubs, the Advanced-A Affiliate of the Chicago Cubs.