The Minnesota Golden Gophers stormed out to a two score lead after one quarter against the Wisconsin Badgers Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium. However, three plays on three consecutive offensive drives turned the game around and led to a 34-24 Badger victory.
The Gophers had a 14-3 lead to begin the second quarter. The drove down the field and converted a third-down play inside the five-yard line, but a questionable hands to face penalty created a 3rd-and-17. The Gophers were forced to kick a field goal to take a 17-3 lead.
Then after the defense forced a third straight three-and-out, the offense got the ball at their own 42-yard line. The second down play, a jet sweep to Isaac Fruechte, lost two yards to create a third-and-11 which led to a punt and a negative yard drive. The Badgers got the ball back and scored a touchdown.
The Gophers responded with a drive into Badger territory, but Mitch Leidner had a bad exchange, he was either trying to give David Cobb the ball or trying to pull it out too late, that was recovered by the Badgers. Two pass plays and a field goal later, the Badgers were only down by four points at halftime.
The downfall continued into the second half after the defense forced the Badgers to punt on the opening drive of the second.
The Badgers (10-2 overall, 7-1 Big Ten) scored 24 straight points to take a 10-point early in the fourth quarter on a Melvin Gordon one-yard touchdown run. The Badgers running back finished the game with 151 yards and a touchdown rushing along with a receiving touchdown.
The Gophers (8-4, 5-3) responded with a long pass play to Maxx Williams and short touchdown run by Leidner, but the Badgers came right back with a touchdown of their own to seemingly seal the victory. Leidner finished the game with two rushing touchdowns, but completed just 5-of-18 passes for 95 yards.
Cobb was a game-time decision after injuring his hamstring last week in Lincoln, but the senior running back started and carried the ball 25 times for 118 yards and a touchdown. He broke Laurence Maroney’s program record for rushing yards in a season during his 40-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
The Gophers now must wait to find out who and where they will play their final game of the season. They are tied with Nebraska for the fourth best record in the conference. The Gophers are likely headed to the National University Holiday Bowl, where they will play a Pac-12 team in San Diego.