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Badgers bounce Gophers from Big Ten title game appearance

Wisconsin reclaims Paul Bunyan's Axe and will represent the Big Ten West in next week's Big Ten championship game.
Credit: AP
Wisconsin wide receiver Kendric Pryor (3) is knocked down by Minnesota defensive back Jordan Howden (23) during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota's quest for the West fell short.

The Gophers fell to Wisconsin 38-17 Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium, costing the Gophers the Big Ten West title and a spot in the Big Ten championship game with Ohio State. 

The No. 9 Gophers looked poised to send the hometown fans home happy as they came out of the gates firing, scoring less than three minutes into the game.

Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan connected with receiver Rashod Bateman for a 51-yard touchdown. The score came on the heels of a quick defensive stop that allowed the Gophers to jump out to an early 7-0 lead on the 13th-ranked Badgers.

Minnesota (10-2) contained one of the nation's best running backs, Jonathan Taylor, to just 78 yards, snapping a streak of three straight 200-yard rushing games. Taylor did have three scores, but majority of Wisconsin's offense came through the air.

The Badgers (10-2) put the ball in quarterback Jack Coan's hands, and he didn't disappoint. Coan threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns, including a 47-yard TD strike to Quintez Cephus early in the third quarter that put the Badgers up 17-7.

Morgan finished 20-for-37 for 296 yards and two touchdowns. Bateman had six catches for 147 yards and Minnesota senior Tyler Johnson caught seven passes for 77 yards and a TD in his final home game.

The Gophers will now wait to see what bowl invitation they receive, while the Badgers attempt to knock off the Buckeyes next week for the Big Ten Championship.

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