MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- As Rhys Lloyd prepared for his game-winning
field goal, Minnesota coach Glen Mason offered a final piece of
"Don't forget to get the Axe," Mason said, referring to Paul
Bunyan's Axe, which sat on Wisconsin's sideline.
Lloyd's 35-yard kick gave the Gophers (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 24 AP) a 37-34 win
over the rival Badgers on Saturday. And Lloyd didn't forget the
Axe. The kicker led a stampede of Gophers to the Wisconsin
sideline, grabbed the trophy and paraded it around the Metrodome
"I'm just glad he didn't go for the Axe before he kicked the
ball," Mason joked.
Marion Barber III had 139 yards rushing and a touchdown, and
Laurence Maroney added 135 yards and a score for the Gophers (9-2,
5-2 Big Ten), who overcame a career day by Wisconsin quarterback
Minnesota has won three straight games for its first nine-win
season since 1905, when it won 10 games.
Backup quarterback Benji Kamrath went 6-for-10 for 93 yards in
place of Asad Abdul-Khaliq, who left with an injured shoulder just
Sorgi, who returned to the lineup after minor left knee surgery,
threw for a career-high 305 yards and four touchdowns. Sorgi sat
out Wisconsin's loss at Northwestern two weeks ago, which knocked
the Badgers (6-4, 3-3) out of the Top 25.
He rallied the Badgers, who were playing without star running
back Anthony Davis, from an early 24-6 deficit, but couldn't
prevent his team from losing its third straight.
"Sorgi had a really gutty performance," Badgers coach Barry
Alvarez said. "I know he was getting hit a lot when he released
the ball. He really toughed it out."
The Gophers also noticed Sorgi's toughness. Minnesota linebacker
Ben West said he had several hits on the quarterback.
"I swear he was down, but he got right back up," West said.
The Badgers made it 34-all on Sorgi's 26-yard TD pass to Owen
Daniels with 7:15 left to play.
But on the ensuing drive, Kamrath, a fifth-year senior,
completed a crucial 22-yard pass to Aaron Hosack on third-and-9
from the Minnesota 33. Barber had 11- and 13-yard runs to the
Badgers 21. Maroney added a 3-yard run to the 18, and Minnesota ran
the clock to one second to set up Lloyd's winning kick.
"(Mason) was saying, 'If you make this, you get all the pizza
you can eat.' And I was like, 'Fair enough," Lloyd said.
The Badgers watched from the sideline as the Gophers carried the
"Our trophy case will be empty all year," Wisconsin's Darius
Jones said. "That will sit nasty in our mouths."
Sorgi opened the second half with a 17-yard TD pass to Lee Evans
to pull the Badgers to 24-20.
Lloyd added a 34-yard field goal, but Wisconsin tied it on the
ensuing possession after a costly pass-interference penalty by the
Gophers' Ukee Dozier on fourth down.
Two plays later, Sorgi found Darrin Charles for a 12-yard TD
pass to make it 27-all.
Minnesota took a 34-27 lead on Barber's 11-yard run at the 11:13
mark of the fourth.
Barber, who eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark on the season, and
Maroney ran for more than 100 yards for the third straight game.
Barber has 1,134 for the Gophers.
Wisconsin entered holding Big Ten opponents to an average of
97.8 yards rushing per game. But Minnesota came in as the
second-best rushing offense in the nation and gained 336 on the
"I was surprised they ran on us like that," Alvarez said.
"But they do it well."
It only took 56 seconds for Minnesota's vaunted running game to
score a touchdown. On the third play of the opening drive,
Abdul-Khaliq pitched the ball to Maroney, who scampered down the
right sideline 30 yards to the end zone to give the Gophers a 7-0
Lloyd kicked a 34-yard field goal to make it 10-0 at the 7:56
Abdul-Khaliq gave the Gophers a 17-3 lead on his fourth rushing
touchdown of the season.
After another Wisconsin field goal, Minnesota took a 24-6 lead
on Thomas Tapeh's 6-yard run with 2:01 to play in the second
The Badgers finally found the end zone with 1:25 left in the
first half when Sorgi found Daniels from 27 yards out to pull
Wisconsin to 24-13.