This Time, It’s Offense That Carries Wisconsin
Wisconsin suddenly has a snazzy offense to go with its superb defense.
Quarterback John Stocco threw for a career-high 297 yards and a touchdown and ran for two other scores Saturday in the No. 5 Badgers’ 38-14 rout of archrival Minnesota.
“I’ve never seen him play like that before,” said Anthony Davis, who rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns. “That was amazing. That just shows you what he’s capable of doing.”
The Badgers, 9-0 for the third time in school history, moved into a first-place tie with idle Michigan atop the Big Ten at 6-0. They celebrated by rushing to the Golden Gophers’ sideline to retrieve Paul Bunyan’s Axe, the trophy that goes to the winner in Division I’s most-played rivalry.
“It feels great,” Davis said. “I don’t have to look at that empty trophy case anymore.”
And Stocco felt great about finally breaking out with a big-time game.
“It’s nice to do some good things and finally get some points on the board,” said Stocco, whose offense totaled 525 yards and held the ball for 44 1/2 minutes to the Gophers’ 15 1/2 .
After going seven games without scoring more than 24 points, the Badgers scored on their first five possessions for the first time in five years.
Wisconsin, which was averaging 21 points a game, had that by the end of the first quarter and led, 31-7, at the half.
Davis scored on two one-yard runs and set up Stocco’s one-yard keeper with a 21-yard run. Stocco also threw a 17-yard scoring pass to Jonathan Orr, and Mike Allen kicked a 41-yard field goal.
The Gophers (6-4, 3-4), who lost for the fourth time in five games, finally got going when Bryan Cupito led an 80-yard drive that he capped with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Ernie Wheelwright that made it 31-7.
Stocco, a sophomore and first-year starter, had completed 14 of 18 passes by halftime for 241 yards, 30 more than his career high of 211 at Purdue last month. He completed 19 of 26 passes.
Wisconsin outgained Minnesota, 205-31, in the first quarter, never giving the Gophers the chance to spring their 1-2 running punch of Marion Barber III and Laurence Maroney. Maroney finished with 57 yards in eight carries and Barber had 34 yards in seven runs.
“Our defense didn’t seem like it could stop anything the whole first half,” Gopher Coach Glen Mason said.
The Gophers entered as the Big Ten’s top-scoring offense and owner of the league’s best rushing game, but they gained only 73 rushing yards.