Wisco Wednesday: Rivalry Week

Down With Big Red. Down a Few Good Men for The Ax. Just One More Win.

Last Saturday was incredible. Nebraska has still never possessed the Freedom Trophy in the Wisco-Nebraska series. Now it’s time to put a 2nd trophy in the case this week. Win the ax, and some interesting and special streaks will continue for Wisconsin or end for Minnesota. 

But that stuff is secondary, just watching Minnesota lose is more than enough for most Badger fans. 

Looking Back: The Crowd Won the Game

Nebraska 17
Wisconsin 24

Terrible Start

What a surprise, the Badgers had a slow start for the 3rd time in a row. Well, actually it’s the 6th slow start in a row, but people are really dwelling on those 2 losses to Indiana and Northwestern

Wisconsin didn’t score on their first 2 possessions, and they gave up TDs on Nebraska’s first 2 drives of the game. After the 2nd Husker TD, it felt like this was going to be a repeat of the NW game. It was unsettlingly still in the stadium for several minutes. 

Winning at Half?

And then something changed. Most notably, the Air Raid showed up! I swear it’s the first time I’ve ever seen it in action being run by players wearing Wisconsin uniforms. The hurry-up offense was energizing. The band and the stadium DJ were thrown off by how quickly Longo was stringing plays together. 

And it worked!  

Somehow the offense figuring it out lit enough of a fire on the defense for them to get it together too. And it was 14-10 at half, Huskers still on top. 

But, everyone in Camp Randall could feel it. The score didn’t say so, but it felt like Wisconsin was winning

Overtime and the Crowd

Luke Fickell, in his post-game press conference, gave a very honest assessment of the crowd: 

  • To be honest with you, had we not been [in] the environment that … we had on Saturday night, had we not had that student section, the fans, I’m not sure we pull through and play the way we did after that first quarter.”

That’s pretty awesome.

There are 2 things I want to point out about overtime

1: Wisconsin went for it on 4th down inside the 5. Some people I know who were not at the game think that was a poor decision. Wisco was 0-2 on 4th down before that call. I think I speak for everyone who was at the game here; if Wisconsin didn’t go for it, they were going to lose. That is how that felt in the stadium, at that moment. Braelon got it, and the rest is history.

2: Wisconsin had to go 1st in OT (normally a disadvantage), but they got to choose which way the teams would play. They opted to have both teams drive into the North Endzone… aka the Student Section. Hindsight being 20/20, that was far more valuable than going 2nd. The crowd made Nebraska’s offense inept in that massive moment at the end of the game. It was awesome.

Looking Forward: Fleck’s Last Stand

  • Odds listed were taken from FanDuel at the time of writing.

Game Preview: Wisconsin at Minnesota


Wisconsin -2.5




Huntington Bank Stadium – Minneapolis, Minnesota

Kickoff Time:

2:30 PM CT

TV Network:


Black Friday 2024?

This year there are 2 B1G games on Black Friday. Iowa at Nebraska and Penn State at Michigan State. Next year there will be at least 2 games on Black Friday again. Nebraska at Iowa is already set; the other one is up in the air. I think there is a very reasonable possibility that it is Minnesota at Wisconsin for The Ax. 

Just a thought. 

Gopher Struggle Bus

Tough games

PJ Fleck’s rallying cry all season has been that Minnesota has the toughest schedule in the country. That sounds like an excuse to me. But, let’s look at the best teams they’ve played.

  • at Ohio State
  • vs. Michigan
  • at North Carolina
  • at Iowa

Okay, so that’s a pretty tough slate. I don’t think Wisconsin wins any of those games. And Fleck actually beat Iowa (at Iowa!) for the 1st time in his tenure with the Gophers. 

How they’ve done so far: Begging for a Bowl

Minnesota has 5 wins right now (5-6), but they are probably better than most 5 win teams. 

They need one more win for a Bowl. Or do they?

I go into further detail here, but If there is 1 open spot for a 5-7 team this year, it goes to Minnesota. They have the best APR (Academic Progress Rate) of the possible 5 win teams which is the metric that determines who gets any unfilled bowl slots.

But Minnesota doesn’t want to rely on other 5 win teams losing this week. There is no guarantee that there will be a leftover open spot for them. They want to win. They want the Ax, they want 6 wins, and they want to win on Senior night. 

What to Watch for the Badgers

Major Injuries

I know Braelon Allen played last week, but he played hurt and it showed. 62 yards and 2.8 ypc is not the Braelon Allen fans are used to. 

During the Nebraska game, Safety Hunter Wohler and Wide Receiver Will Pauling both sustained significant injuries. Both are not expected to play Saturday at MN (anything is possible though). Wohler is the best player on the Badger defense; Pauling is Wisconsin’s best receiver. Those are massive losses that I think Wisconsin will have a very difficult time overcoming, 

Mordecai Till the End

Tanner Mordecai is back, and he got Bucky a win last week. Would I prefer Locke? Yes. Am I okay letting Mordecai finish out the season he started? Absolutely. Tanner, go get Wisconsin 2 more wins. 

Streaks: Winning and The Ax

The bowl streak is safe. Wisconsin will play in a bowl game for the 22nd consecutive season. The third-longest active streak in the country.

There is another streak Wisco needs to maintain though. Wisconsin has also had 21 consecutive winning seasons. That’s the 2nd longest streak in the country and the longest amongst Power 5 schools. Wisconsin is the Steelers of college football, they refuse to lose. To keep the streak alive they have to win 1 of their last 2 games: at Minnesota or in the bowl game. I’d prefer it if they just won both.

And now for a bad streak that must end. Minnesota has beaten Wisconsin twice in a row. If that extends to 3, this will be the first time since 1987 Minnesota won 3+ in a row vs Wisconsin. The 80s are when Wisconsin was bad. Wisconsin doesn’t need to be tying records from the bad times. Wisconsin really needs to win the Ax and set things right. 

The all-time series is currently tied 62-62-8 in the Ax Game. The winner this weekend takes the lead heading into the new Big Ten (18 teams in the B1G lol).

My Picks*

Wisconsin is a team. That’s all I know. They’re not bad, but they’re not good either. I can probably say the same about Minnesota. All I have to go on for the game this weekend is 1: it’s B1G West football, and 2: Wisconsin is really banged up right now. Based on that, and my gut feeling, here’s what I would pick for The Ax Game – if I had to.


Take Minnesota +2.5

Wisconsin is missing their best player on Defense and best WR. It’s on the road. Fleck is a fantastic motivator who will have his team fired up to their maximum. I have a bad feeling about this. 


Under 41.5

It will be cold, it’s the B1G West, and I think Wisconsin will struggle to score.

How I did last week:

Picking the Winner: Won – Wisconsin won
Picking the Spread: Lost – Wisconsin covered
Picking the O/U: Lost – The Over hit

I was looking good on all 3, but then overtime happened. I’m okay with being wrong because of overtime scores. You can’t really predict when overtime will strike. 

Season-Long Record Picking Wisconsin Games:

Picking the Winner: 8-3
Picking the Spread: 6-5
Picking the O/U: 6-5

My hot start picking Wisco games has regressed to the mean. Now I’m barely above .500.

*These picks are to express my opinion on games from a point spread perspective. I am not advocating for you, the reader, to gamble on any of these games. Please bet responsibly.

Anxious Score Prediction:

Wisconsin 14
Minnesota 23

The slow starts have been killing Wisconsin. This time, they don’t have a home crowd to pull them out of their funk. And I know I keep saying it, but there are some key injuries for the Badgers, and I don’t think this team can overcome losing those guys. 

Wohler, Allen, and Pauling are absolutely necessary for the win in my mind. And it sounds like all the Badgers will have is half a Braelon. 

I would love to be wrong this week.


Want more Walk On Fan? 

Follow us on Twitter (or X) @here.

This article was written by Cole Tollison and edited by Hayden Breene

Welcome to Walk On Fan

Sign up to receive notifications when new articles go live!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *