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Gophers suffocate Badgers, reclaim Paul Bunyan's Axe

Minnesota picked up its first home win over the Badgers since 2003.

With a suffocating effort on defense, the Minnesota Gophers reclaimed Paul Bunyan's Axe, defeating the Wisconsin Badgers 23-13 on Saturday night.

This was an old-school Big Ten battle from the start as each team's opening drive took up the entire first quarter. With the game tied at 3-3, the Badgers were the first to the end zone when Tanner Morgan's pass was tipped into the hands of Scott Nelson for a 26-yard pick-six.

With Wisconsin up 10-3, the Gophers drove down the field but their drive stalled after Chris Autman-Bell drew contact from Caesar Williams but didn't get the flag. It was one of several calls that went the Badgers' way after Colin Wilder was ejected for targeting on the opening play of the game and forced the Gophers to settle for another field goal.

The Badgers came out of the locker room with a 10-6 lead and the ball but Justin Walley gave it back to Minnesota by intercepting Graham Mertz. After wrestling the ball away from Kendric Pryor, the Gophers raced down the field and set up a Ky Thomas touchdown to take the lead.

After the Badgers tied the game up with another field goal, the Gophers responded. By driving 74 yards on seven plays, Morgan found Autman-Bell for a 27-yard touchdown that put Minnesota back in front.

With the Gophers in control, another Trickett field goal extended the lead and the rest of the game belonged to the Minnesota defense.

The Gophers dominated the Badgers, holding them to 233 total yards and without an offensive touchdown to earn their first home victory over Wisconsin since 2003.

Minnesota finishes the regular season with an 8-4 record and will await which bowl they will head to next month.

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