BuckyCap: Axe Leaves Madison After Woeful Badgers Effort
It finally happened. It took 15 years, but Minnesota broke the streak against Wisconsin. Golden Gophers had lost 14 straight times to Wisconsin, and they were hell bent on not making it a 15th. For the second consecutive year, P.J. Fleck’s team had a 5-6 record needing a win to make them bowl eligible. FLeck did just that, and Minnesota finishes the year 6-6 after pounding the Badgers, 37-15. Gophers get Paul Bunyan’s Axe for the first time since 2003. It’s their first win at Camp Randall since 1994. This is their worst home loss since 2008 which is somewhat incredible if you think about it. Badgers rarely lose by double-digits at home.
Alex Hornibrook didn’t look ready to play – Look, I get wanting to keep Jack Coan’s redshirt available, but it seemed like Alex Hornibrook did not want to play this football game. That’s not a mean thing, rather, a mental thing for him. Hornibrook looked like he worried too much about getting hit and found himself too timid in a variety of situations. He struggled in his first game back with three interceptions and one lost fumble. Hornibrook did not do himself any favors with the Badgers faithful who would like a change at quarterback.
Special teams hurt Wisconsin – The punt return to end the first half was a killer for the Badgers. They trailed 10-0 at that point. Minnesota scored a touchdown the drive prior then the Badgers went three-and-out and Demetrius Douglas takes back the punt. That’s brutal. In a span of a two minutes, Wisconsin went from being down 3-0 to being down 17-0. Now, Wisconsin responded with a touchdown, but where was that on the drive before? Also, Rafael Gaglianone missed a chip shot field goal early in this game that played a role in the special team suckage.
Maybe it’s a good thing Minnesota won? – There was a troll post on Bucky’s Fifth Quarter about this very topic, but let’s be serious, Minnesota getting the axe is good for the rivalry. Next year when Wisconsin finishes the year at Minneapolis, there will be revenge in their eyes. The game suddenly matters more, instead of the narrative of ‘Can Wisconsin keep this streak alive?’ I know, no one wants to hear that this morning, but the axe game being a tough battle makes things more fun even if it means a few losses here and there.
Next up: Wisconsin will await to see what bowl game they play in this year. Looking at bowl projections, Wisconsin will play on New Year’s Eve either in the Redbox Bowl in Santa Clara or the Taxslayer Bowl in Jacksonville. If on the West coast, the teams seem to be Cal or Arizona State. Cal would be interesting with Justin Wilcox, former Badgers defensive coordinator at the helm. On the East coast, it would be Missouri or Vanderbilt. Out of these four teams, Vandy would be the most boring matchup. Let’s avoid that.