Tom Oates: Grading Badgers’ performance in lopsided loss to Golden Gophers
Wisconsin State Journal columnist Tom Oates grades the Wisconsin Badgers’ performance in their 37-15 loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Saturday afternoon at Camp Randall Stadium.
After throwing an interception into triple coverage, Alex Hornibrook kept UW alive with a touchdown pass to Jake Ferguson late in the first half. Hornibrook’s three second-half turnovers doomed UW. Jonathan Taylor ran hard but couldn’t break a long one. Danny Davis caught 10 for 93 yards, but he and A.J. Taylor had big drops.
Until it collapsed in the final 5 minutes, the defense kept UW in the game by forcing Minnesota to kick field goals after halftime. Minnesota, 13th in the Big Ten in giveaways, had no turnovers. Another game, another costly pass-interference penalty. T.J. Edwards went down fighting as a senior should; he was in on 18 tackles.
Special teams: F
Demetrius Douglas returned Connor Allen’s line-drive punt 69 yards for a touchdown and a 17-0 lead in the first half. Rafael Gaglianone missed a chip-shot field goal for the second straight game. Not the way to end a marvelous career. UW had two more penalties on special teams. Please, Jack Dunn, call a fair catch next time.
UW was balanced with 27 runs and 26 passes through three quarters, not that it helped. You had to like Paul Chryst going for it on fourth-and-4 from the 44, but UW needed to throw a higher-percentage pass. UW employed a nickel defense and Minnesota ran the ball well enough against it on early downs to avoid third-and-longs.
The game wasn’t on the road and it wasn’t against a team with a winning record, which made it hard to fathom how UW could lose its grip on Paul Bunyan’s Axe in such convincing fashion. The Gophers had more energy, were more efficient and generally played harder. Some losses sting more than others and this was one of those.