Wisconsin shot themselves in the foot in a loss to Minnesota.

Wisconsin only has itself to blame in a deflating 23-16 loss to Minnesota on Saturday afternoon to lose the Paul Bunyan’s Axe in back-to-back years for the first time since the 1993-94 and 1994-95 seasons.

Turnovers, sloppy penalties, and a stagnant offense contributed to the loss and the passing defense looked lost against backup quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis.

Minnesota ran that quick slant play all day, yet Wisconsin’s pass defense looked like they had never seen that play before. The Gophers did a great job on their play-action fakes to suck in the linebackers and defensive backs and allowed for easy completions for Kaliakmanis who went 19/29 for 319 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions.

The positive is that the run defense held Minnesota star running back Mohamed Ibrahim to 70 yards rushing on 27 carries.

Speaking of offense, Wisconsin’s passing attack was terrible on Saturday.

Graham Mertz went 16/27 for 170 yards, zero touchdowns, and one interception. Mertz has been terrible in November. He’s only completing 45 percent of his passes and has thrown two touchdowns and four interceptions during that stretch. This is the worst Mertz has looked and UW should look into getting a quarterback from the transfer portal.

Wisconsin’s run game ran for 133 yards on 33 carries. Chez Mellusi in the absence of Braelon Allen rushed for 75 yards on 18 carries and Isaac Guerendo rushed for 40 yards on seven carries.

Kicker Nate Van Zelst has been rock-solid for UW this season. Van Zelst who took over for Vito Calvaruso who sustained a leg injury earlier in the season has converted 10/13 field goal tries and has been perfect on extra point tries. Van Zelst went 3/3 on field goals in Saturday’s game.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

The ending to this game was flat-out sloppy for Wisconsin committing three penalties when they are on Minnesota’s five-yard line is inexcusable. Wisconsin’s self-inflicted errors have been an issue this season. The Badgers on average commit over six penalties per game and it cost them in a big way on Saturday.

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