12:00 PM ET, October 14, 2006
Camp Randall Stadium, MADISON, WI
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin wasted no time chopping down its border rival.
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 span.
"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 said.
Hill's running, which has been compared to that of former Badger Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne, opened up the rest of the field for Stocco.
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."
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... P.J. Hill committed to Wisconsin. The Badgers freshman scored Wisconsin's second touchdown of the first quarter on a five yard run to put the Badgers up 14-0.
Gameball goes to... Hill and QB John Stocco. Hill ran for 164 yards and two TDs on 25 carries. Stocco was similarly impressive, connecting on 12-of-19 for 193 yards and four touchdowns (0 INTs).
Stat of the game... 6-of-10: The Badgers converted 60 percent of their third downs and racked up more than 400 yards of total offense -- split nearly perfectly between passing and rushing.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||3-14||6-10|
|4th Down Conversions||1-2||1-2|
|TD||13:25||JACK IKEGWUONU 50 YD DEFENSIVE FUMBLE RETURN (TAYLOR MEHLHAFF KICK)||0||7|
|TD||5:24||P.J. HILL JR. 5 YD RUN (TAYLOR MEHLHAFF KICK)|
Drive info: 10 plays, 87 yards.
|FG||3:14||JASON GIANNINI 37 YD FG|
Drive info: 8 plays, 60 yards.
|TD||8:37||LUKE SWAN 8 YD PASS FROM JOHN STOCCO (TAYLOR MEHLHAFF KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 53 yards.
|TD||1:59||ANDY CROOKS 2 YD PASS FROM JOHN STOCCO (TAYLOR MEHLHAFF KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 38 yards.
|TD||14:01||TRAVIS BECKUM 40 YD PASS FROM JOHN STOCCO (TAYLOR MEHLHAFF KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 81 yards.
|TD||10:11||P.J. HILL JR. 2 YD RUN|
Drive info: 6 plays, 53 yards.
|TD||10:11||MARIO REESE MISSED EXTRA POINT RETURN||5||41|
|TD||14:49||AMIR PINNIX 2 YD RUN (JASON GIANNINI KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 22 yards.
|TD||8:52||TRAVIS BECKUM 4 YD PASS FROM JOHN STOCCO (TAYLOR MEHLHAFF KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 58 yards.