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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Sunday, September 24, 2023

This isn't a picture from the Axe game this year, but it was just as cool as when the Badgers won today

Badgers take back the Axe, set up Championship game against Ohio State

Bring on all the boat-related puns and all the different ways that they can sink. 

Wisconsin sunk Minnesota’s boat and so much more on their way to clinching the Big Ten West and a Big Ten title game berth for another matchup with Ohio State in Indianapolis. 

Axe week and the border battle meant far more than it had in previous years and the Badgers were up to the task. Wisconsin (10-2 overall, 7-2 Big Ten) walked into TCF Bank Stadium for a game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers (10-2 overall, 7-2 Big Ten) who had been the talk of the Big Ten for their emergence and unexpected success. 

The Gophers were celebrating senior day and were riding a rabid fanbase who was looking to watch P.J. lead Minnesota to their big ten championship game appearance, but boy was it not to be. 

“It’s real simple today boys, all you have to do is make plays for four quarters, and we are going to go and take back what’s ours.”

That was the message star tailback Jonathan Taylor relayed to the rest of the skill position players and they did just that. 

Taylor wasn’t able to rattle another 200-yard game with the Gophers stacking the box, but the rest of the group made it known that Wisconsin is far from just the Jonathan Taylor show. 

Kendric Pryor found the endzone once more on his patented end around, while Quintez Cephus had another marvelous day, Garrett Groshek scampered for 70-yards on a screen and, heck, even seldom-used Isaac Guerendo made a huge play. 

The offense was able to pick apart the Gophers defense due in large part to the fantastic play of Jack Coan.

Coan threw for 280 yards on the day and threw two perfect touchdowns as well. One went to Jonathan Taylor, who made a great adjustment to the football, and the other went to Quintez Cephus who has a knack for the long ball. 

The “Long Island Laser” had himself a day and was incredible considering the snowy, wet conditions in Minnesota.

The 38 points Wisconsin’s offense generated was impressive but the way the defense responded was about as good as it gets. 

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On the second play of the day for the Golden Gopher offense, they ripped off a 51-yard bomb from Tanner Morgan to Rashod Bateman to quickly go up 7-0. Oh boy, a defense and secondary that had given up a ton of chunk plays recently showed up again and it looked like the Badgers were in trouble, but the defense responded to say the least. 

Minnesota’s opening score came with 12:30 left in the first quarter. They wouldn’t score again until 6:51 left in the third quarter. The last time the Gophers would score would be with 5:51 left with Minnesota already down 38-10 and the game already sealeed. 

The UW defense gave up 372 yards to the explosive Minnesota offense but forced two turnovers that turned into ten points, and held when it needed to. 

Caeser Williams came away with an interception after Cruikshank had fumbled with Minnesota up 7-0 which led to the first Wisconsin points and Williams came up huge again with back to back stops at the goal line against talented wide receiver Tyler Johnson with the Gophers only down 14 at the time. 

Wisconsin’s performance on both sides of the ball is extremely encouraging. The offense bounced back from a four turnover day by allowing turning it over once while the defense was fantastic after a ton of missed tackles and big plays the past couple weeks. 

For the second time in three years, the Badgers will now head to Indianapolis for a matchup with the Ohio State Buckeyes. Wisconsin and Ohio State met earlier in the season in what turned into a 38-7 crushing of the Badgers, but this time there will be a Big Ten title on the line. 

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