The Opponent

Consistency and Wisconsin have gone hand-in-hand since 1993, when the Badgers had a breakthrough 10-1-1 season and Rose Bowl berth. Third-year coach Paul Chryst has them unbeaten and deep in the hunt for a College Football Playoff berth. They’ll first try to win Paul Bunyan’s Axe for the 14th consecutive time before facing Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Player to watch

The Badgers churn out running backs, and freshman Jonathan Taylor (above) is the latest. The Salem, N.J., native ranks third nationally with 1,657 rushing yards.

Gophers offense vs. Badgers defense

The Gophers, minus top receiver Tyler Johnson, mustered 43 passing yards and no points against Northwestern. Now, they’re facing a Badgers defense that ranks second nationally in points against (13.1), second in total defense (24.64 yards allowed per game) and first in rushing defense (79.4). Advantage: Wisconsin

Gophers defense vs. Badgers offense

With Taylor running behind a massive line, the Badgers are averaging 35.2 points and holding the ball for 35 minutes, 24 seconds. Advantage: Wisconsin

Special teams

Ryan Santoso ranks second in the Big Ten in punting average (43.3 yards) and Rodney Smith is averaging nearly 25 yards per kick returns, so that goes in Minnesota’s favor. Thing is, the Gophers hope both won’t have to be used in those roles too often. Advantage: Gophers

Intangibles

The Badgers don’t want to trip on their route to a playoff berth, and they’ll have a large following invade TCF Bank Stadium. Their motivation is much greater than the Gophers’ hopes to earn a bowl game. Advantage: Wisconsin

RJ’s PREDICTION

Wisconsin 38

Gophers 10

Just can’t see the Gophers doing much against that Wisconsin defense. The Badgers keep the Axe for the 14th straight year.