Ahead of the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday, a montage of Badgers players shared how only seniors touch the six-foot-long axe after wins, and they paid tribute to the players who “made the streak,” which stands at 14 consecutive wins for Wisconsin since 2003.
Wisconsin vs. Minnesota
Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe
It’s bigger than one man
It’s bigger than one game
— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) November 20, 2018
The video shows highlights/lowlights of the 2005 matchup, when Gophers punter Justin Kucek fumbled a snap with 36 seconds left and the U holding onto a 34-31 lead. The miscue set up Wisconsin blocking the punt and recovering the ball in the end zone for the winning touchdown in a 38-34 victory.
The video then edits together clips of Badgers players parading around Camp Randall and TCF Bank Stadium with the axe in locker rooms and in their routine mock-chopping down of goalposts. There’s a lot of years of footage to pull from.
At the end, Badgers share their gratitude for the support they receive in their hometowns. Players list off places in Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Ohio and farther away Maryland and Florida as well as Brazil and American Samoa.
“And in Eden Prairie, Minnesota,” senior linebacker Ryan Connelly concluded in a shout-out to his hometown.
The Gophers distributed 220 turkeys along with traditional Thanksgiving sides to families in the second annual Row The Boat Turkey Drive on Tuesday at TCF Bank Stadium. Each player donated $5 to help obtain items, with Cub Foods chipping in to provide the rest of the trappings.
“For us to put something forward and be able to see how many people we can help is what it’s all about,” Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan said. “It’s about serving and giving.”
The Gophers’ turkey drive benefited nine organizations.
Junior receiver Tyler Johnson has 1,036 receiving yards this season and is 89 yards away from breaking the Gophers’ single-season record of 1,125 set by Ron Johnson in 2000.
Johnson has 70 receptions, which is 14 behind Eric Decker’s record 83 in 2008. KJ Maye is second with 73 in 2015.
With 10 touchdowns, Johnson is one off the shared record of 11, which is held by Ron Johnson in 2000 and Omar Douglas in 1993.
Minnesota’s underclassmen scrimmage every Sunday during the season, and coach P.J. Fleck has noticed a few standouts.
Here are a few players who were top-of-mind to Fleck on Tuesday: linebackers Thomas Rush, Mariano Sori-Marin and Braelin Oliver, tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford, defensive lineman Nate Umlor and offensive linemen Austin Beier.
Fleck also mentioned to redshirt freshman walk-on quarterback Jon Santaga for the quality looks he gives the Gophers defense as the scout team QB.
Fleck said he’s hopeful that left tackle Donnell Greene and cornerback Terell Smith can play Saturday.
Greene played through an undisclosed injury and had limited mobility in the 24-14 loss to Northwestern last week. Smith has a leg injury and missed the Wildcats game.
“We’ll get some guys back for the last game,” Fleck said, without sharing specifics. “I think it’s a little too early to say for definite, but it’s trending towards the way we’ll get some guys back.”
Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibook, who has missed three of the past four games, remains in concussion protocol and was limited in Tuesday’s practice, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
All-American right tackle David Edwards remained out Tuesday with a left-arm injury, setting up a second straight start for Logan Bruss.