This Saturday, the #18 Wisconsin Badgers (7-2, 3-2) and Minnesota Golden Gophers (2-7, 1-4) will meet for the 121st time which ranks as the most-played rivalry in FBS history.
In the last decade, the Badgers have been in full control of Paul Bunyan’s Axe as they go into the latest installment of the series winning the last seven games, including thee of them on the road in Minneapolis.
Minnesota Synopsis: To start the season, Minnesota played competitive football while losing their first two games by a combined ten points. They followed that up by receiving their first win over Miami of Ohio and then really dropped the ball versus North Dakota State. The start of Big Ten play couldn’t have been any worse for the Gophers, including a 58-0 drubbing from Denard Robinson and Michigan.
But, the season took a turning point two weeks ago when the Gophers surprisingly took down Iowa 22-21, to take home the Floyd of Rosedale bronze pig trophy. Momentum was on their side as they took #17 Michigan State down to the wire, but fell just short in a very entertaining game last week. Can they improve even more this week when the Badgers desperately look for their first Big Ten road win?
The Big Ten has been crazy in 2011 to say the least, but for the Gophers to do the unthinkable, QB MarQueis Gray will need a monster game to keep up with the Badgers high-octane offense.
For the full Minnesota season preview go here.
Wisconsin Synopsis: Wisconsin rebounded from their two-game skid by blowing out the Boilermakers at home. In reality, it was a return to normal for a Badgers crew who had two of the worst losses of the college football season. The hype around QB Russell Wilson has cooled off and has now shifted to touchdown-hungry RB Montee Ball.
Ball needs just two touchdowns to tie the Big Ten single-season record of 26. He’s had at least two in every game this season and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the record tied by halftime. The record is held by three people, the most recent being Penn State’s Ki-Jana Carter in 1994.
From a bowl standpoint, there hasn’t been any team in the conference who’s benefited more from the scandals and parity which has rocked the Big Ten in 2011. With Nebraska’s loss to Northwestern and the absolute mess in Penn State, you would have to say the Badgers are once again the best team in the Big Ten.
For the full Wisconsin season preview go here.
Prediction: After dropping back-to-back games on the road, the Badgers have a lot to prove in Minneapolis. For that reason, I think the Badgers make this a statement game and win big. Like I mentioned, I think Ball scores at least two touchdowns in the first half and will break the record by game’s end. Badgers win big before another real test at Illinois next week.
Wisconsin 48 Minnesota 10
Do you think the Badgers will take home the axe for the eighth consecutive season? Let me know by commenting below!
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers, Green Bay Packers, and Milwaukee Brewers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best.