Minnesota rallies late to beat Wisconsin 23-16, keep Axe

Nov 26, 2022, 2:31 AM | Updated: 5:56 pm

Teammates celebrate with Minnesota wide receiver Le'Meke Brockington (0) after his game-winning tou...

Teammates celebrate with Minnesota wide receiver Le'Meke Brockington (0) after his game-winning touchdown late in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Madison, Wis. Minnesota won 23-16. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)

(AP Photo/Andy Manis)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck understood one of his major assignments upon taking this job was to alter the balance of power in the Gophers’ rivalry with Wisconsin.

He’s done exactly that.

Athan Kaliakmanis connected with Le’Meke Brockington on a tiebreaking 45-yard touchdown with 3:40 remaining and Minnesota barely hung on in the final minute to beat Wisconsin 23-16 on Saturday. The victory enabled Minnesota to beat the Badgers in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1993-94.

After losing to Wisconsin 14 straight times from 2004-17, the Gophers have won three of the last five matchups.

“I know that’s what I was hired to do,” said Fleck, who improved his record in this rivalry to 3-3.

Minnesota (8-4, 5-4 Big Ten) retained possession of Paul Bunyan’s Axe, which goes to the winner of this annual matchup. The Gophers also tied the most-played Football Bowl Subdivision rivalry — these two Big Ten foes have been facing each other since 1890 — at 62-62-8.

The Gophers first had to sweat out Wisconsin’s improbable comeback attempt in the final minute.

After an injury knocked Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz out of the game on the Badgers’ final series, backup Chase Wolf drove the Badgers into position for a tying touchdown. A pass interference penalty in the end zone gave Wisconsin first-and-goal from the 5 with 26 seconds left.

But a holding penalty and a false start pushed Wisconsin back to the 20. After Wolf threw an incompletion, two more false starts created second-and-goal from the 30. The game ended with Wolf throwing an incompletion into a crowd of players in the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 25.

“Obviously, it was an ugly, ugly finish,” Wisconsin interim head coach Jim Leonhard said.

Wisconsin (6-6, 4-5) fell to 4-3 under Leonhard, who was promoted from defensive coordinator after the firing of Paul Chryst. Leonhard now waits for an announcement on whether he has the job for keeps.

“We’ve been through a lot of adversity and we’ve learned a lot about this team,” Leonhard said. “There are certain things I don’t like. We need to improve. We need to win games, flat-out. That’s our job. That’s our goal here, to be competitive in the Big Ten and win football games. We’ve gotten inconsistent results.”

Minnesota was facing second-and-11 when Brockington ran a slant route, caught Kaliakmanis’ pass in stride inside the 35 and outran Wisconsin’s defense to the end zone for his first career touchdown.

Kaliakmanis ended up 19 of 29 for 319 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in his third game filling in for Tanner Morgan, who is out with an upper-body injury. That represented a major step forward for Kaliakmanis, who was 7 of 15 for 87 yards with an interception last week in a 13-10 loss to Iowa.

“I knew that I couldn’t play like I did (against) Iowa,” Kaliakmanis said. “I had to respond and play a lot better.”

Wisconsin, which had come back from a 13-6 deficit to take a 16-13 lead late in the third quarter, couldn’t rally a second time.

This game shaped up as a duel between two of the nation’s top running backs in Minnesota’ Mohamed Ibrahim and Wisconsin’s Braelon Allen, but it didn’t quite work out that way.

Allen missed Saturday’s game after injuring his ankle a week earlier in a 15-14 victory at Nebraska.

Ibrahim took a big hit in pass protection on Minnesota’s opening series and finished with 27 carries for 70 yards, the first time this season he’s been held below 100 yards.

“If you’d told me that before the game, I would have said we were going to win,” Wisconsin safety John Torchio said. “That’s tough. Credit to them. They went out and made plays.”


Minnesota: The Gophers did a nice job of bouncing back from the loss to Iowa and withstood the absence of safety Tyler Nubin, who was out with a hand injury. Minnesota showed it has a bright future as the passer and receiver on the winning touchdown are both redshirt freshmen.

Wisconsin: This program prides itself on offensive line, but the repeated penalties by Wisconsin’s offensive linemen kept the Badgers from tying the score on the game’s final series. After Chimere Dike’s 9-yard reverse put Wisconsin ahead 16-13 in the third quarter, the Badgers went three-and-out three times and threw an interception in their next four series. Mertz was 16 of 27 for 170 yards with an interception.


Both teams should learn their bowl destinations and opponents on Dec. 3.


AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/ap_top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://tinyurl.com/mrxhe6f2

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

Minnesota rallies late to beat Wisconsin 23-16, keep Axe