Wisconsin wide receiver Quintez Cephus (87) hands Paul Bunyan's Axe to teammate linebacker Zack Baun (56) after Wisconsin beat Minnesota 38-17 in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

FOOTBALL
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — As soon as Wisconsin’s victory over Minnesota went final, the swarm of white-uniformed Badgers raced toward Paul Bunyan’s Axe for a gleeful reunion with the traveling trophy they lost last year.

They ceremonially chopped at the goal post, while others turned somersaults and made snow angels on the field.

At the end of this breakthrough season by the rival Gophers, the Badgers showed they’re still in charge in the Big Ten West Division.

Jack Coan delivered two momentum-shifting touchdown passes and Jonathan Taylor added three touchdowns to his FBS-leading total, as No. 13 Wisconsin reasserted its recent dominance in the rivalry by beating No. 9 Minnesota 38-17 on Saturday to advance to the Big Ten championship game.

“The worst feeling in the world was losing on our own field and having them take it,” said Badgers linebacker Chris Orr, who watched Gophers win 37-15 last year to end a 14-game losing streak in the series. “The best feeling in the world is beating them on their home field on senior day and taking it from them.”

Quintez Cephus caught five passes for 114 yards, including a 47-yarder for a score midway through the third quarter that gave Wisconsin (10-2, 7-2, No. 12 CFP) a 17-7 lead. Coan connected with Taylor for a 28-yard touchdown strike late in the second quarter that gave the Badgers the lead after a slow start, sending them on their way to a rematch with unbeaten and second-ranked Ohio State.

Taylor, the Heisman Trophy contender who had 200-plus rushing yards in each of his last three games, had a quiet 76 yards on 18 carries. Badgers coach Paul Chryst and offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph called a shrewd game, though, with well-timed reverses and screen passes to put the Gophers on their heels after their first four possessions went nowhere. They caught Minnesota defensive end Carter Coughlin in coverage on the touchdown throw to Taylor after a safety blitz. When the safety help was slow after a late change of the call, Cephus exploited a matchup with linebacker Thomas Barber for his score.

“A lot of the plays were extremely well-drawn up. We just have to learn how to combat it better,” said Gophers defensive end Winston DeLattiboudere, one of six senior starters on the defense.

Coan went 15 for 22 for 280 yards, a career high for a Big Ten game.

“He was able to throw dimes down the field in these conditions,” Taylor said. “He has something special.”

Tanner Morgan passed for 296 yards and two touchdowns for the Gophers (10-2, 7-2). He had an interception and a lost fumble that turned into 10 points for the Badgers, who scored touchdowns on each of their first four drives in the second half. Two of them covered 90-plus yards.

“That’s all on me. I’ve just got to be better in the pocket and moving around,” said Morgan, who set the Minnesota season record with 2,975 passing yards.

BADGERED MORGAN

The Gophers delivered the first blow on their second play of the game, when Bateman badly beat freshman cornerback Semar Melvin for a 51-yard score on a perfect strike from Morgan. With Minnesota boasting the top two receivers in the Big Ten in Bateman and Tyler Johnson, the Badgers had their hands full.

They responded with five sacks, giving them the fourth-most in the FBS (44) this season, harassing Morgan into plenty of off-balanced and hastened throws. Cornerback Caesar Williams, elevated to the starting lineup for the injured Rachad Wildgoose, had the interception when Morgan’s hurried pass sailed over Johnson in the second quarter, and in the fourth quarter he broke up back-to-back passes to Johnson in the end zone on third and fourth down with the Badgers leading 24-10.

The Gophers lost mammoth right tackle Daniel Faalele to a leg injury in the second quarter, which didn’t help their cause.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

This was the only the sixth time in the history of the most-played series in major college football that both teams were ranked in The Associated Press poll, the first since 2014 when Wisconsin also denied Minnesota a spot in the conference title game by winning the regular-season finale. Wisconsin could take Minnesota’s place in the top 10 on Sunday.

THE TAKEAWAY

Wisconsin: The Badgers might be wincing next month about what that one-point loss to Illinois on Oct. 19 might have cost them, though they have a long-shot hope of their first berth in the College Football Playoff if there’s a bunch of upsets on conference championship weekend. Either way, their recovery was a testament to Chryst and his staff, and the game plan for the Gophers was superb.

“There were a number of things that maybe we hadn’t done,” Chryst said. “It’s not like we put them all in this week, but I think the situations were right for it.”

Minnesota: The dream season took a painful hit with losses to border-state rivals Iowa and Wisconsin over the final three weeks, after starting Fleck’s third year at 9-0. Though the Badgers took home the traveling trophy for the 22nd time in the last 25 seasons, the Gophers had no trouble expressing confidence in their progress.

“I know we didn’t tonight, but that doesn’t mean we won’t forever,” Fleck said.

UP NEXT

Wisconsin: Heads to Indianapolis for the sixth time in nine years since the conference title game was created. The Badgers lost 38-7 to Ohio State on Oct. 26.

Minnesota: Awaits the Dec. 8 announcement of the bowl assignments. The Rose Bowl remains a possibility, but the Badgers might grab that one and relegate the Gophers to either the Citrus Bowl or the Outback Bowl, both of which are also on Jan. 1.


MEN’S HOCKEY
MINNEAPOLIS – A third period rally came up just short on Friday night as the Gopher Hockey program fell 3-2 to No. 3 North Dakota at 3M Arena at Mariucci.

Minnesota (5-8-3 overall, 2-3-3-2 Big Ten) picked up goals from Tyler Nanne to open the night and Ben Meyers to close the night, but North Dakota (12-1-2, 5-0-1-1 NCHC) sandwiched three goals in between the Maroon & Gold tallies to earn the win.

Nanne opened the night with his second of the year, scoring an unassisted, 4-on-4 goal in the first period. Meyers brought the Gophers back within a goal during the third period, scoring for the second-straight game with a power-play goal set up by Sammy Walker and Blake McLaughlin.

The Gophers outshot North Dakota 25-22 on the night while going 1-for-3 on the power play and 2-for-3 on the penalty kill.

Jared Moe fell to 3-4-1 on the year for Minnesota, making 19 saves on 22 shots. Adam Scheel made 23 saves on 25 shots to improve to 12-1-2.


WOMEN’S HOCKEY
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Sarah Potomak scored two goals and Sydney Scobee earned a 21-save shutout as the No. 1 University of Minnesota women’s hockey team secured a 4-0 win over Harvard to close out the Country Classic at the Nashville Predators’ Ford Ice Center Bellevue on Saturday afternoon.

Minnesota (14-1-3, 9-1-2-1 WCHA) scored a pair of goals in both the second period and the third period on the way to the team’s fifth shutout of the year. Sarah Potomak redirected a shot by Olivia Knowles to put the Gophers up 1-0 at the 14:15 mark of the middle frame before Alex Woken doubled the lead just 1:23 later. Abigail Boreen then extended the lead with her first goal of the season with 9:41 remaining in the third period, and S. Potomak sealed the win with an empty-net goal in the final two minutes.

Harvard (5-4-0, 5-0-0 ECAC Hockey) was led by a 39-save effort from goaltender Lindsay Reed as the Gophers outshot the Crimson 43-21 for the game.


VOLLEYBALL
COLLEGE PARK – The No. 8 University of Minnesota volleyball finished the regular season strong with a four-set win over No. 7 Penn State, tonight in University Park, Pa. After losing the first set, the Gophers won the next three to clinch the win, 19-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-23.

This marks the first time the Golden Gophers defeated Penn State in University Park since 2004. Minnesota ends the regular season with a 23-5 overall record, and tied for second in the Big Ten with a 17-3 league record. Penn State drops to 24-5 overall, and 17-3 in conference play.

Stephanie Samedy led the Gophers with 21 kills, hitting .475. She also had 12 digs, one block and one ace. She was followed by Alexis Hart who had 12 kills, five blocks and three digs. Adanna Rollins added 11 kills, seven digs and three blocks. Taylor Morgan offered up seven kills, six blocks and four digs. Regan Pittman had a team-best seven blocks, as well as six kills, two digs and one ace. Kylie Miller had 49 assists, 10 digs, five blocks and one ace. CC McGraw had 11 digs, and Rachel Kilkelly added eight digs and two aces for the Gophers.

As a team, Minnesota had 57 kills, 57 digs, 13.5 blocks and hit .284. Penn State had 60 kills, 57 digs, 9.5 blocks and hit .250.

Gophers Receive No. 7 Seed For NCAAs
The University of Minnesota volleyball program received the No. 7 overall seed in the 2019 NCAA Division I Volleyball Championships and will host the First and Second Round of the tournament, Friday and Saturday night, announced tonight on ESPNU.

Iowa State and Creighton will compete in the first match of the evening, set for 4:30 p.m., followed by the Gophers facing Fairfield at 7 p.m. The winner of each match will advance to the Second Round, set for 7 p.m. All matches will be played at Maturi Pavilion. Should the Gophers advance out of the Second Round, Minnesota is in the Texas Region and travel to Austin, Texas for the NCAA Regional Semifinal, Dec. 13-14. Pittsburgh is the host city for the NCAA Championships, Dec. 19-21 as the national semifinals and championship match will be played at PPG Paints Arena.

The 2019 season marks the 24th year the Golden Gophers have advanced to the NCAA tournament. Receiving an at-large bid this year, the Gophers have now advanced to the tournament five-straight seasons and seven of eight years under head coach Hugh McCutcheon.

Minnesota is one of seven Big Ten teams to make the 2019 NCAA tournament and is one of the league’s five seeded teams. Wisconsin holds the highest seed at No. 4, followed by Nebraska (5), Minnesota (7), Penn State (11) and Purdue (16). Michigan and Illinois also advanced to the tournament. In all, the Gophers faced 10 teams that made up the field of 64. Along with the six other Big Ten teams Minnesota faced this season, the Gophers also competed against Florida, Florida State, Texas and Stanford this year.

The Gophers enter the NCAA tournament with a 23-5 overall record and finished 17-3 in the Big Ten. That mark ranked in a tie for second in the Big Ten, along with Nebraska and Penn State.

Fairfield will be making their 11th trip to the NCAA Championship and their fourth in five years after securing the 2019 MAAC title with a 3-1 win over Quinnipiac. They went 24-5 overall and 17-1 in conference action. Iowa State received an at-large bid and is making its 14th all-time NCAA Championships appearance, including 13 the past 14 years. The Cyclones finished the regular season 17-11, 8-8 in Big 12 play. Creighton received an at-large bid and enter the NCAA tournament with a 24-5 overall record, 17-1 in Big East play.

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