Gophers chopped down by Badgers in battle for 'Axe'
By Colin Fly, AP Sports Writer
MADISON, Wis. -- John Clay ran for three touchdowns and freshman James White added two more to lead No. 20 Wisconsin to a 41-23 win over Minnesota on Saturday to keep Paul Bunyan's Axe for the seventh straight year.
Clay ran for 111 yards and White had 118 in the most lopsided victory for Wisconsin (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten) in the most played rivalry in Division I football, which dates to 1890.
Clay has scored seven touchdowns in his three matchups with the Gophers and White has been hot recently with eight TDs in his last three games.
Minnesota (1-5, 0-2) wore white helmets and uniforms on an unseasonably hot day, but that didn't help the Gophers break their skid against Wisconsin or overcome an early 14-0 deficit.
Adam Weber, who started his 44th game, went 11 of 25 with 249 yards and three touchdown passes -- one to MarQueis Gray in the second quarter and two to Da'Jon McKnight in the fourth, when the Gophers were already on their way to their fifth straight loss.
The Gophers controlled the clock in the second quarter, scoring on Eric Ellestad's 24-yard field goal and Weber's 9-yard TD pass to Gray that got them within 14-9 going into halftime.
Wisconsin used an 11-play, 64-yard drive on the opening possession of the second half that was aided by three Minnesota penalties. Those mistakes set up White's 8-yard touchdown run through a gap opened when center Peter Konz pulled out and buried cornerback Ryan Collado.
Clay scored his second touchdown on the next possession, going straight up the middle for a 4-yard score, and added an 8-yard TD run by bowling over James Manuel early in the fourth quarter to make it 35-9. White's 1-yard TD run gave Wisconsin a 41-16 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
White finished with 19 carries while Clay had 21 a week after a streak of 10 straight games with at least 100 yards and a touchdown was snapped in a loss at Michigan State. Now, they'll share the load heading into Saturday's night showdown against No. 2 Ohio State.
Scott Tolzien, who finished 17 of 23 for 223 yards, threw a 3-yard TD pass to Jared Abbrederis on Wisconsin's first possession, and Minnesota went backward in its own territory on the next possession because of two penalties and a stumble by Weber.
Wisconsin took over at the Minnesota 45 and Clay ran in from a yard out to make it 14-0.
Gophers coach Tim Brewster had kept his first three matchups against Wisconsin close, losing by a touchdown or less.
Minnesota wore white helmets for the first time since 2006 as temperatures reached the 80s, but the fashion forward look did little to help another ugly loss.