U’s close call in 2014 still stings

The last time the Gophers were at Camp Randall Stadium, they seemed poised to head to the Big Ten Championship Game. In a winner-take-all battle for the 2014 Big Ten West title, the Gophers led 17-3 and actually could have led 21-3 if not for a questionable hands-to-the-face penalty on Tommy Olson.

But the game turned on a third-and-8 play, when the Gophers had a coverage breakdown, gifting Wisconsin receiver Alex Erickson a 70-yard gain. Melvin Gordon and Co. led the way from there to a 34-24 Wisconsin win. David Cobb rushed for 118 yards, and Mitch Leidner completed only five of 18 passes, but Tracy Claeys, then defensive coordinator, took the blame.

“We let them up,” said Jay Sawvel, secondary coach then and now Claeys’ defensive coordinator. “I don’t ever forget that.”

JOE CHRISTENSEN