Badgers aim to regain Axe, with Gophers on 2-game winning streak in college football’s oldest series

By The Associated Press

Wisconsin (6-5, 4-4 Big Ten) at Minnesota (5-6, 3-5), Saturday, 3:30 p.m. EST (FS1).

Line: Wisconsin by 1 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: Tied 62-62-8.


The Badgers have had an injury-filled and frustrating first year under coach Luke Fickell, but they can extend their FBS-leading streak of winning seasons to 22 straight years by beating the Gophers. More important: Taking back Paul Bunyan’s Axe. Wisconsin has lost two in a row in the oldest rivalry in college football for the first time since 1993-94.

With a win, Minnesota would have its longest streak in the series, that began in 1890, since a four-game run from 1984-87. The Gophers also need a victory to guarantee a trip to a bowl game, though their most recent Academic Progress Rate (APR) score from the NCAA will have them first in line for a spot among potential 5-7 teams if there aren’t enough with six wins.


Wisconsin running game vs. Minnesota defensive front. The Badgers are averaging 4.52 yards per rush, their lowest rate since 2016 excluding the pandemic-abbreviated 2020 season. Braelon Allen came back from a lower leg injury last week to score two touchdowns against Nebraska, including the overtime winner. With top LB Cody Lindenberg missing their last two games with a leg injury, the Gophers gave up 353 rushing yards to Purdue and 215 rushing yards to Ohio State in consecutive road losses.


Wisconsin: Nathanial Vakos is 14 for 16 on field goals this season. The Lou Groza Award semifinalist, who transferred from Ohio, made a 52-yarder against Iowa on Oct. 14. That was the longest field goal for the Badgers in four years.

Minnesota: QB Athan Kaliakmanis has struggled to find a groove in his first full season as a starter. He had a career-high 319 passing yards at Wisconsin last year in a 19-for-29 performance with two touchdowns and no turnovers.


The Badgers have won 23 of the last 28 matchups with the Gophers. … Badgers SS Hunter Wohler leads all Big Ten DBs with 101 total tackles. … Badgers QB Tanner Mordecai, who missed three games with a broken hand, is 49 for 73 (67.1%) for 415 yards, one TD and no interceptions over the last two games. … Gophers WR Daniel Jackson has topped the 100-yard receiving mark in three of the last five games. … Tyler Nubin has 12 career interceptions, needing one more to set Minnesota’s all-time record. … Dragan Kesich is three field goals short of the Minnesota program record (25) for a season set by Dan Nystrom in 2000. … Gophers opponents have only returned eight of Mark Crawford’s punts this season, the third-fewest in the Big Ten.


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