MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin wasted no time chopping down its
John Stocco threw four touchdown passes and P.J. Hill ran for
two scores as No. 25 Wisconsin beat Minnesota 48-12 on Saturday to
keep Paul Bunyan's Axe.
"I know all the seniors feel the same way -- having that Axe
stay here in our last go at them just feels great," Stocco said.
"We've done a good job starting fast. That really helps out as a
team, to get the momentum early and not give it back."
Wisconsin (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten) got an early defensive touchdown
and wasted little time turning Hill loose. The redshirt freshman
responded with 164 yards on 25 carries to help produce the biggest
margin of victory in the series since 1983.
"P.J. Hill is a beast," said tight end Andy Crooks, who had a
TD catch to make it 28-3 at the half. "The line is getting some
great blocks. It is a team effort."
Minnesota (2-5, 0-4) had no answer early for Hill or late for
Stocco, who went 12-of-19 for 191 yards and had TD passes of 8, 2,
40 and 4 yards.
When the Golden Gophers focused on slowing the 242-pound Hill,
Stocco picked them apart. Minnesota has lost four straight and its
bowl hopes are fading fast with Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa
still on the schedule.
"I told the players to put this all on my shoulders," said
Minnesota coach Glen Mason, now 2-8 against Wisconsin as the
Gophers' coach. "We didn't play well offensively or defensively.
I'll take the responsibility."
Wisconsin has outscored conference opponents 141-38 during its
three-game winning streak and put up 1,467 total yards in that
"We've found our identity and everything's clicking," Badgers
left guard Andy Kemp said.
On the opening possession, Hill gained 78 yards on seven carries
-- including five straight touches to start the drive
He flashed his power and poise to finish the drive, first
gaining 28 yards on a fourth-and-inches play after a block by
freshman right tackle Jake Bscherer.
Hill, who also had a 2-yard TD in the third quarter and went
over 1,000 yards for the season, scored on the next play from the
Gophers 5 by running through the middle of Minnesota's defense to
give Wisconsin a 14-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the game.
"I made it very clear to our offense that we were going to be
in attack mode as much as we can," Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema
said. "I wanted our offense and our team to know that we will try
to put points on the board and we will defend until the end."
Minnesota's Amir Pinnix finished with 97 yards on 19 carries and
a touchdown, but had a costly fumble that Badgers cornerback Jack
Ikegwuonu returned 50 yards for a touchdown just 95 seconds in to
give Wisconsin a 7-0 lead.
"I don't know what happened," Pinnix said. "We've still got
to bounce back and play hard."
But the Gophers seemed lethargic a week after a missed extra
point cost them in an overtime loss to Penn State.
In another play that typified Minnesota's struggles, Pinnix
broke two ankle tackles and had an angle to the end zone, but
tripped and fell after running into teammate Logan Payne, who was
attempting to block downfield.
The Gophers had to settle for a 37-yard field goal by Jason
Giannini to make it 14-3.
Does Mason feel snakebitten by Minnesota's recent problems?
"I didn't feel snakebit. I wouldn't blame the snake," Mason
Hill's running, which has been compared to that of former Badger
Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne, opened up the rest of the field
The senior quarterback, who had his second career four-TD game,
moved into second in career touchdown passes at Wisconsin with 42,
17 behind the school record set in 1995 by current Minnesota
Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.
Even though the Badgers kept the Axe and became bowl eligible,
Bielema said those story lines are just a side note to the season.
"For every game they're able to put in that win column, it
takes them one more step closer to what they want at the end of the
year," Bielema said. "We'll stay on that track."