After giving up an early touchdown on the road with the division on the line, No. 12 Wisconsin (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten) proved to be far too strong for No. 8 Minnesota (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten) and dominated the upstart Gophers to the tune of 38-17. The win by Wisconsin clinched the Big Ten West and will send Wisconsin off to Indianapolis next weekend for a rematch with No. 1 Ohio State.
Leading 10-7 at halftime, Wisconsin took over full control after halftime with a 28-3 advantage. Quintez Cephus had a 47-yard touchdown catch down the middle of the field in the third quarter to open up Wisconsin’s lead to 17-7. After a Minnesota field goal, Wisconsin scored three-straight touchdowns, including two on the ground by Jonathan Taylor, before Minnesota could get back on the board. Taylor caught a touchdown pass in the first half as well to help Wisconsin take a lead into halftime. Taylor rushed for 76 yards and two touchdowns and had two catches for 39 yards and the go-ahead touchdown.
Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan was solid for the Badgers as well, completing 15 of 22 passes for 280 yards and two touchdowns. The defense was also a factor for Wisconsin. After giving up a long touchdown pass from Tanner Morgan to Rashod Bateman early in the game, the Badgers held Minnesota out of the end zone until well into the fourth quarter.
Wisconsin will now prepare for a rematch with the Buckeyes. Ohio State handled the Badgers earlier this season, 38-7 in Columbus. Next week will be the third meeting between Ohio State and Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game. Both of the previous meetings have been own by the Buckeyes. Ohio State shutout Wisconsin 59-0 in 2014 to help secure a spot in the College Football Playoff, which led to a national championship for the Buckeyes. Two years ago, in 2017, Ohio State topped the Badgers, 27-21. Ohio State has won back-to-back Big Ten championships and will look for the first three-peat in the Big Ten championship game era.
Minnesota’s next game is now in question. The gophers are still heading to a bowl game, but which one remains to be seen. A chance to play in a New Years Six bowl game may have just been eliminated, but Minnesota should be getting one of the more attractive non-New Years six bowl destinations the Big Ten has to offer. That may be impacted by what happens to Wisconsin next week as well. Wisconsin may not be a lock for a New Years Six spot if they come up short against Ohio State, although the Badgers heading to the Rose Bowl could help bump Minnesota’s bowl outlook.