STATE COLLEGE — Wisconsin not only secured Paul Bunyan’s Axe, but also a trip to Indianapolis for a berth in the Big Ten championship game with its 38-17 win at Minnesota on Saturday.
Wisconsin will play in its sixth Big Ten championship game this weekend against Ohio State.
“I’m very proud of that group in the locker room and what they did,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst told reporters after the game. “We came up here with one purpose, and that was to win this game and to bring the axe back home. It took a lot of people, and I thought all three phases had a big hand in it.”
Minnesota led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, but was outscored 38-10 over the last three periods.
The Badgers, who have relied heavily upon running back Jonathan Taylor this season, received balanced production from their offense. Taylor finished with 76 yards rushing and two touchdowns, quarterback Jack Coan passed for 280 yards and two touchdowns, and wide receiver Quintez Cephus tallied 114 yards and one touchdown.
Minnesota suffered its largest margin of defeat this season. The Golden Gophers dropped just their second game of the season, and their 10 wins this year are the most in 114 years.
“We did not play our best football today, and that 100 percent falls on me,” Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck said. “My message to them was how proud I am of them. We’re 10-2 in the regular season, first time to win 10 games since 1905. Nobody wants to hear that right now, but I made sure they understood that they are co-champions.”
Golden Gophers wide receiver Rashod Bateman finished with 147 yards receiving and one touchdown to improve to 1,170 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.
Up next: No. 12 Wisconsin (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten) plays No. 1 Ohio State (12-0, 9-0 Big Ten) on Saturday in the Big Ten championship game. No 8 Minnesota (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten) is TBA.
Ohio State remains perfect
Ohio State halted a surging Michigan program, 56-27, to cap a perfect regular season. The Buckeyes will now train their attention on the Big Ten championship game, where they’ll face a Wisconsin team they defeated 38-7 on Oct. 26.
Saturday’s win was Ohio State’s eighth consecutive against the Wolverines.
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields left the game with an injury in the third quarter, but returned after a few minutes. On his first play back, Fields launched a 30-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Wilson.
Fields finished with 302 yards passing and four touchdowns.
“I thought it was a magical moment; I thought it was a Heisman moment,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “For him to go down and take the injury, he puts a brace on and comes back out and makes a throw that we didn’t design that way. … For him to ad-lib and to make that throw going to his left, that was as good of a throw as I’ve seen in a long time.”
Buckeyes running back J.K. Dobbins rushed for season-highs of 211 yards and four touchdowns. Dobbins had three touchdowns in the first half.
Jim Harbaugh dropped to 0-5 in contests against Ohio State as Michigan's coach, and the Wolverines had a four-game win streak snapped.
“The first half was being played pretty tight, but then I think the difference is we were down in the red zone and came away with no points,” Harbaugh said. “The next drive, we extended their drive on the punt, so we gave them that, and took some points off the board ourselves.”
Ohio State outgained Michigan 577-396 in total offense. Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson threw for 305 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Running back Hassan Haskins rushed for 82 yards and one touchdown.
Up next: No. 1 Ohio State (12-0, 9-0 Big Ten) plays No. 12 Wisconsin (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten) on Saturday in the Big Ten championship game. No. 13 Michigan (9-3, 6-3 Big Ten) is TBA.
Iowa grabs ninth win
Hawkeyes kicker Keith Duncan’s 48-yard field goal with one second remaining in the game on Friday lifted Iowa to a 27-24 win against Nebraska. Duncan also connected on a 49-yard field goal in the contest.
The win improved Iowa to 9-3 this season, and it eliminated five-win Nebraska from bowl contention. The Hawkeyes’ three losses this year have been by a combined 14 points.
Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa recorded 14 tackles and two sacks.
“I credit that to experience,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said of Epenesa’s performance. “Good players, as they gain more experience, play faster and play harder and play more efficiently. So, to me, that’s been part of the learning curve. … We wouldn’t want to trade him — what a good player.”
Up next: No. 17 Iowa (9-3, 6-3 Big Ten) is TBA. Nebraska (5-7, 3-6 Big Ten) concluded its season.
Games this week
Ohio State vs. Wisconsin, 8 p.m. (FOX)