Wisconsin Badgers vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers: Final Thoughts From The Badgers’ 31-21 Win


The Wisconsin Badgers concluded their regular season with a 31-21 victory over rival Minnesota Golden Gophers on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium. The Badgers chopped down the goalpost with Paul Bunyan’s Axe for the 12th consecutive time as they now await to find out where they will be headed for the bowl game.

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Dare Ogunbowale had a career day, Wisconsin’s defense forced five turnovers, and Joel Stave earned his 30th career victory as a starter. Here are this week’s final thoughts from Wisconsin’s season finale.

No Clement, No Problem

Briean Boddy-Calhoun jumped Stave’s pass on the Badgers’ first play from scrimmage and returned the interception for a  touchdown. After that, Wisconsin returned to its power running game that fans have been accustomed to since Barry Alvarez walked the sidelines of Camp Randall. The Badgers finished with 100 rushing yards by the end of the first quarter.

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  • Wisconsin’s running game has been an issue for most of the season, and it ranks second to last in Big Ten play, averaging 110.8 yards per game on the ground. The Badgers ran the ball 62 times for 257 yards, compared to 17 pass attempts for 79 yards.

    On Saturday, Wisconsin used another offensive line combination, which featured four redshirt freshmen in the starting lineup. The young offensive front did not give up a sack and took advantage of the injuries to Minnesota’s interior defensive line.

    Ogunbowale carried the ball 33 times for a career-high 155 yards and a touchdown, while Taiwan Deal rushed for 90 yards and two touchdowns on 22 attempts. After receiving just five career carries in four years with the program, senior fullback Derek Watt ran for 10 yards on three attempts in his final game. Alec Ingold also plunged in for a 1-yard score for the Badgers’ first touchdown of the game.

    Corey Clement did not make the trip to Minneapolis in wake of Wisconsin’s junior running back’s two disorderly conduct citations from a Nov. 8 fight at an off-campus apartment.

    Turnover Battle

    Wisconsin lost the turnover battle 5-0 in the loss to Northwestern on Senior Day, but the Badgers finished with five takeaways on Saturday with the lone offensive turnover coming from Stave’s pick-six.

    The only blemish on Dave Aranda’s defense has been its inability to create turnovers. With Aranda at the helm, Wisconsin ranked No. 71 in the FBS in 2013 in turnovers forced, No. 92 in 2014 and No. 56 this season. The Badgers have forced 20 turnovers this year, already three more than last season with a game remaining.

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    Wisconsin forced three Mitch Leidner interceptions and two fumbles. The five forced turnovers were the most for the Badgers since the Nov. 14, 2014 against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Camp Randall, and it was the first time Wisconsin accomplished the feat on the road since Sept. 27, 2008 against the Michigan Wolverines.

    Joe Schobert forced his fifth fumble of the season in the second quarter, which led to a 13-yard touchdown for Ogunbowale to give Wisconsin a 21-14 lead. Schobert’s fifth forced fumble tied a single-season high with Chris Borland for the most in program history.

    Tanner McEvoy intercepted two passes on Saturday for the second time in the last three games. His six interceptions this year are the most since Shane Carter picked off seven passes in 2007.

    Stave Makes History

    Stave did not play a great game as he finished 9 of 17 for 79 yards and the interception for a touchdown on the Badgers’ first play of the game. However, Wisconsin won its 30th game with Stave as the starting quarterback, which is tied for the most in school history with Brooks Bollinger.

    The Badgers are now 30-10 in Stave’s 40 career starts and has a shot to set the new program record with a win in the bowl game. Stave’s winning percentage of .786 in Big Ten games and 22 conference wins both rank No. 1 in team history.

    In addition to these new records, Stave needs 276 passing yards in the bowl game to unseat Darrell Bevell as the most career passing yards in team history.

    Next: Schobert Tabbed the Best B1G Linebacker

    Stay tuned to Badger of Honor for more as the week unfolds.