MADISON, WI (WSAU) — For the first time in nearly 15 years, Paul Bunyan’s ax resides in Minneapolis.
The Golden Gophers ran off 17 unanswered points between the third and fourth quarters on Saturday to secure a 37-15 win at Camp Randall Stadium and claw their way to bowl-eligibility.
Wisconsin didn’t get on the board until the closing seconds of the first half when Jake Ferguson hauled in a 7-yard pass from Alex Hornibrook to make the score 17-7 going into the break.
Hornibrook accounted for both Badgers touchdowns with his arm, finishing 22-33 for 189 yards and 3 picks. Johnathan Taylor led the ground game with 121 rushing yards on 19 carries. Danny Davis caught the other touchdown pass in the 4th quarter.
The day marked the final home game for Wisconsin’s senior class, which owns a four-year record of 41-12, and also marked UW Band Director Mike Leckrone’s final football game after leading the Badger Band in 50 years. A national search for his replacement is currently underway.
Wisconsin will now await their bowl bid with a record of 7-5. That mark has Wisconsin sitting in a tie for 4th place in the overall (non-division) standings. Based on how the bowl bids are divvied up, that could see the Badgers land in the Holiday, Music City, Gator, or Pinstripe Bowl. The Big Ten’s participation in the College Football Playoff will also play a factor in that decision.
During the current bowl affiliation cycle, if the Big Ten Champion qualifies for the College Football Playoff the next school in line will go to the Rose Bowl. Should the Champion not be selected, they’ll go to the Rose. The Conference will then assign schools to each of the nine games for which it has agreements with this year. The only stipulation is the same school can’t appear in the same bowl in back-to-back years.