MINNEAPOLIS — For the first time since 1912, the Wisconsin Badgers finished a regular season undefeated.
The No. 5 Badgers got three touchdown passes from Alex Hornibrook and 149 yards rushing from Jonathan Taylor in a 31-0 win over Minnesota to move to 12-0 and extend their winning streak over their rivals to 14 games.
Play of the Game
All season Wisconsin has run the fullback dive in short yardage situations. On Saturday, faced with a third-and-goal from the 1-yard line, the Badgers went against their tendency, calling for a play-action pass. It worked perfectly, as Hornibrook found tight end Troy Fumagalli for the first points of the day. Wisconsin didn’t look back on its way to a shutout victory.
Offense: Alex Hornibrook
In what was easily his best effort of the Big Ten season, the sophomore completed 15 of 19 passes for 151 yards and the three scores. A number of his throws, including a 5-yard touchdown to Danny Davis in the third quarter, were absolute darts, put in places that only his receivers had a chance. Perhaps most importantly, Hornibrook didn’t turn the ball over for the first time in eight games.
It was the type of effort that had several teammates talking about the team’s potential when he plays like that.
“When your offense is clicking and going, especially the way we play defense, there’s no stopping us, I feel like,” cornerback Derrick Tindal said.
Defense: Ryan Connelly
A Minnesota native that wasn’t recruited by the Gophers, Connelly was all over the place on Saturday. He finished with six tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks.
Connelly often gets overlooked among Wisconsin’s inside linebackers, but he’s been fantastic in a staring role of late. He’s the team’s leading tackler, and like he did last year, has more than filled the injury void left by Jack Cichy and Chris Orr.
Special Teams: Rafael Gaglianone
Gaglianone moved to 12 of 14 on the year with his 32-yard field goal in the second quarter. He’s also remained perfect on extra points for the season after hitting all four on Saturday.
In their own words
Did you think 12-0 was a possibility:
TE Troy Fumagalli: “I did, but I didn’t think too much about it. I tried not to focus too much on that and not the season. With the experience we had coming back, with the players in the locker room, I thought this was possible.”
LB T.J. Edwards: “Oh, yeah. 100 percent. I know that if we come out and play our best game we can hang with anyone in the country.”
CB Derrick Tindal: “I been telling you that [since the start of the season]. I trusted my teammates, trusted by boys and feel like they are going to keep it going.”
Is Wisconsin a win away from making the College Football Playoff?
WR Kendric Pryor: “We have to focus on playing Ohio State next. After that, we can’t control [the way] the committee votes. We just go out there and just play ball. If they decide to put us in, they do. If they don’t, they don’t.”
When did you know the game was in the bag?
Tindal: “When the first quarter started. I felt confident before the game. I knew we were going to win.”
In Case You Missed It
— Tight end Zander Neuville left with a knee injury in the first quarter, while running back Bradrick Shaw left in the second quarter with a leg injury. Coach Paul Chryst didn’t have an update on either guy after the game.
— Fullback Austin Ramesh took a sweep for a 41-yard gain in the second quarter. It was the longest rush of his career.
— After being forced to miss four games with a leg injury earlier this year, running back Chris James got his first extended action and finished with 51 yards on seven carries.
— Saturday was the first time since 1922 that Wisconsin has shutout Minnesota in Minneapolis.
Inside the Numbers
13 — That’s the number of wins in a row Wisconsin has, the longest streak in the country
1 — That’s the number of Power 5 teams in the country that are unbeaten. Wisconsin is that one team.
1,806 — That’s the number of yards Jonathan Taylor has run for this year. It’s the third-most in FBS history for a freshman.
Wisconsin (12-0, 9-0) will head to the Big Ten title game in Indianapolis next Saturday to take on Ohio State (10-2, 8-1).