Gophers Lose Battle For The Axe, Big Ten Title Chance
MADISON, Wisc. -- The #18 Minnesota Golden Gophers lost steam after a good start and fell to the #14 Wisconsin Badgers 34-24 today in the regular season finale.
With the loss, the Gophers' losing streak to the Badgers expands to 11 straight in the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe.
The loss also awards Wisconsin the Big Ten West division title and a spot in the Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis against Ohio State.
The Gophers started the game hot, recovering a Wisconsin fumbled punt at the 10 yard line and quarterback Matt Leidner ran around the left side for a touchdown and 7-0 lead.
After a Badgers field goal, star running back David Cobb broke free on a beautiful, 40-yard touchdown run that gave the Gophers a 14-3 lead.
With that run, Cobb also broke the Minnesota school record for rushing yards in a single season previously held by Laurence Maroney.
Cobb, whose effectiveness was in doubt due to a hamstring injury from the week before, carried the Gophers with 118 yards rushing and a touchdown.
For the next 33 minutes, however, Melvin Gordon and the Badgers outscored Minnesota 24-3.
The Gophers defense did alright in containing the Heisman hopeful Gordon, holding him to 151 yards - which is not bad, considering he had rushed for 941 this month alone.
Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave completed key passes, finishing with 210 yards and two touchdowns.
Badgers wide receiver Alex Erickson burned the Gophers for 160 yards on five catches.
In the end, the Gophers' inability to attack downfield in the passing game was their undoing - as Leidner finished with only five completions for 95 yards.
The Gophers finish the 2014 regular season at 8-5 (5-3 in the Big Ten) and will wait to see which bowl game they will be invited to.