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October 9, 2010

UW coasts to rivalry win

MADISON - John Clay and James White ran the ball. Scott Tolzien threw for more than 200 yards. Lance Kendricks added 75 more receiving yards to his total. Jared Abbrederis received his first touchdown pass and the defense played adequate enough.

Add it all up and the Badgers bounced back from a Big Ten opening loss to Michigan State with a decisive 41-23 win over rival Minnesota.

"I think anytime you come into this week it's about who can keep their composure a little bit," UW head coach Bret Bielema, who has never lost to Minnesota, said. "The players have to understand there's a lot of emotions out there. We kind of got wind that they were going to change up their uniforms so I pointed that out to their guys and made our guys understand it's about doing what you do."

Wisconsin is known for running the ball, and that's exactly what it did.

Both White (19 carries, 118 yards, two touchdowns) and Clay (21 carries, 111 yards, three touchdowns) toppled the 100-yard mark. Minnesota's less-than-stellar rush defense reared its ugly head yet again as the Gophers gave up 250 yards rushing to a Badger squad that compiled 473 yards of total offense.

"They're good players," Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster, who's team slipped to 1-5 on the season, said. "White rushes for 119 and Clay rushes for 111 and that's certainly not a recipe for success for your defense when you got two guys rushing for over 100 yards in a game."

In a series dominated by Wisconsin in recent years - Saturday's win was UW's seventh straight in the series - Minnesota kept it close through the first half.

After the Badgers stormed out of the gates to mount a 14-0 lead, the Gophers seized control of the momentum and eventually rallied to cut the halftime score to 14-9 when Adam Weber hit MarQueis Gray on a nine-yard fade route with less than half a minute to play in the second quarter.

That was as close as the Gophers would get the rest of the way.

Wisconsin received the second half kickoff and promptly marched down the field on an 11-play, 64-yard touchdown drive capped by an eight-yard White touchdown scamper.

It was the first of two touchdowns drives in the quarter - - the other an 8-yard Clay run late in the third - pushed the Badger lead to 35-9 entering the fourth quarter.

"You just got to make the plays; you got to stop the run," Brewster said. "That's the basic premise on which we live by defensively, and we certainly didn't get the job done there in the third quarter.

"They just ran the ball that well against us, and that's really disappointing."

The Badgers also passed the ball pretty efficiently against the Gophers.

Scott Tolzien completed 17-of-23 passes, 11 of which went to Kendricks and Nick Toon, for 223 yards and a touchdown. It was evident from the start that Bielema and his Badgers made it a point to get Clay, Kendricks and Toon rolling early in the contest.

"Everybody knows we're going to run the football," Bielema said. "So the more diversity we can give catching the ball the better off we're going to be."

Though Minnesota tacked on a couple of late touchdowns, the win were never truly in doubt for the Badgers in the second half. The win was the seventh-straight in the series for the Badgers, a streak dating back to 2003.

"I was a little guy and just running around," UW junior defensive end J.J. Watt said of the last time Minnesota had the Axe. "I was probably playing hockey or something. Hopefully I'll never live to see that day again."


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