Nov. 26, Camp Randall
Record: 10-2 (7-2 Big Ten)
As Paul Bunyan’s Axe was wheeled onto the University of Wisconsin’s sideline to begin the third quarter Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium, UW was in serious jeopardy of losing it for the first time in 12 years.
The Badgers’ usually unbreakable defense had botched the first half. With the stakes higher than ever, they put on perhaps their best performance of the season to lead a second-half comeback and keep UW’s College Football Playoff hopes very much alive.
Protecting a 10-point lead, Minnesota gained just 60 yards of offense over the final two quarters and the Badgers intercepted quarterback Mitch Leidner four times after his final completion of the night came on the Gophers’ first drive of the second half.
The result was a 31-17 victory on Senior Day and a chance for UW to move into the top four with a win over No. 8 Penn State in the Big Ten Championship game next week.
“(Minnesota’s) offensive line kind of got a little down on themselves,” UW outside linebacker T.J. Watt said. "You could kind of see it in their eyes. You could see it in their demeanor. That’s when we knew we had 'em beat."
The fifth-ranked Badgers (10-2, 7-2) began the second half with a field-goal drive to cut the Gophers’ lead to 17-10, but Minnesota (8-4, 5-4) drove into the red zone once again.
On third-and-9 from the UW 14-yard line, safety Leo Musso stepped in front of a receiver in the end zone to pick off Leidner. Minnesota’s offense was never the same, and the Badgers dominated the remaining 18 minutes.
Leidner threw another interception two drives later, when Sojourn Shelton jumped a route in the flat and returned the ball 40 yards to the Minnesota 19-yard line.