Wisconsin maintained Paul Bunyan's Axe after running over, around and through the Gopher defense. The Axe will be making it's home in Madison for the 9th year in a row. Two huge questions were facing the Gophers today. One, could the defense stop the run? Two, what will we get out of Phillip Nelson making his first collegiate start as a true freshman? One was answered the other was an incomplete.
The Gopher defense has been unable to stop the run in all three of their Big Ten games. Today, in Madison, against one of the best rushing attacks in football, it was no different. James White and Montee Ball combined for 341 yards and 5 touchdowns leading the Badgers to a 38-13 win over the Gophers.
Like the previous two Big Ten losses, it was a tale of two halves. One the Gophers dig themselves a hole and another where they are competitive but can't get out of the whole they put themselves in. Today was no different but the halves were reversed. The Gophers went into halftime only down 14-6. But Wisconsin made the halftime adjustments and physically dominated the second half winning the final two quarters 24-7.
The story of the day was the very surprising move by Coach Kill to start Philip Nelson, his true freshman quarterback. Nelson is originally from Madison and dreamed of playing at Camp Randall...for the Badgers. His day was decent, about what you would expect from a true freshman making his first collegiate start. 13-24, 149 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions (one was tipped). He also chipped in 67 yards on the ground. The Nelson era didn't start out with fireworks and an epic upset of the Badgers, but he will get his opportunity to beat the Badgers a few more times. Was it worth losing his redshirt? I don't think so, but if he starting the final five games then I don't think this season will be a total waste.
Welcome to the Big Ten Mr. Nelson. We will leave the debate over your redshirt for another post on another day, but I hope you learn a lot over the next five games and are prepared to lead us to wins over Wisconsin (and the rest of the Big Ten) during the next three seasons.
Back to today's game. Wisconsin was clearly the better team, controlled the line of scrimmage and ended up running away with it. Not much more to say about it. Moving on to Purdue (who just happened to almost beat Ohio State today).