The Wisconsin football team ended their regular season with a win over Minnesota, keeping Paul Bunyan’s Axe in Madison.
In an absolutely ugly game, the Wisconsin football team salvaged a disastrous season with a big win over the Minnesota Gophers. After three straight losses, the Wisconsin football season felt lost. This team has had to miss three games in an already shortened season because of covid outbreaks. They have been hit hard by the injury bug. Graham Mertz has struggled since his awesome start and has looked like a freshman quarterback.
All in all, this has been a tough season for Badger fans.
So it’s fitting that their final game was against the Gophers, who are also having an underwhelming season, and the game was sloppy and gross. Neither of these teams looked particularly good, but someone had to win. Luckily for us, the Badgers pulled out the win in overtime, despite their own best efforts to give the game away.
The offense struggled mightily for most of the game, but that should be expected when you are missing your top two receivers, top running back, and your starting left tackle and center. As I said, the Badgers have been hit hard by the injury bug this season.
Graham Mertz looked uncomfortable all game and was missing his receivers badly. It wasn’t until the third quarter where he started making some plays and getting in a rhythm. Of course, in that same drive, he scrambled and dove forward and took a shot to the head, knocking him out for the rest of the game. He finished 12-20 for 132 yards.
When Mertz exited the game, sophomore Chase came in and threw a touchdown on the very next play. He made a few nice plays but had a near game-costing interception near the end of the game. With just over one minute left in the game, the Badgers were driving for a potential game-winning score, and on a 1st-and-10, he launched a pass to the end zone that was intercepted.
In the end, the defense held and forced the game to overtime where the Badgers eventually won.
Offensively, the only thing that really went well was Garrett Groshek. Groshek gashed the Gopher defense all night and ran for 154 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown. He was the Badger’s first 100-yard rusher all season.
Defensively, you have to love what you saw from the pair of inside linebackers, Jack Sanborn and Leo Chenal. They were constantly making plays. It reminded me of the way Zack Baun and Chris Orr played last season. There were a few plays that either Sanborn or Chenal blew up, including a forced fumble in the first quarter that was somehow overturned back into an incomplete pass.
The secondary remains a bit of a question mark. They did their part holding Morgan in check, allowing just 160 yards, and picking him off in the end zone. They still allowed two touchdowns, including an easy completion in the first quarter on what seemed to be a blown assignment.
With their victory, the Badgers will finish the regular season 3-3 and are now bowl-eligible. They will avoid snapping their streak of 18-consecutive bowl games. The only thing keeping Wisconsin out of a bowl game this year is covid. If the school decides not to play in a bowl game this year, this could have very well been the final Wisconsin football game of the year.
Ending with a win over Minnesota isn’t the worst way to end such a weird season, but I think this team will want to play again. It won’t be a New Year’s bowl game, but with how this year has gone, a bowl game is still a hell of an accomplishment.
If not, at least the Badgers kept the Axe at home in Madison for another year.