MADISON, Wis. -- In the battle of freshmen quarterbacks, Minnesota's defense is keeping the game close.
Philip Nelson has showed poise and skill in his first collegiate action for the Gophers, leading a 65-yard touchdown drive that reached the end zone with a 16-yard pass to Brandon Green. The extra point was no good.
But the Gophers, continually stuck with poor field position, have punted away their other five possessions, and trail 14-6 at halftime in Camp Randall Stadium.
The Badgers, trusting their offense to redshirt freshman Joel Stave, have sputtered, too, punting away four possessions. The Gophers have sacked Stave three times, twice taking Wisconsin out of field-goal range.
For the third straight game, however, Minnesota has allowed an opposing tailback to roll up big yardage in the first half. This week, it's James White, who has 98 yards on just seven carries, including touchdown runs of 8 and 34 yards.
Nelson's debut, meanwhile, has been impressive. The 19-year-old from Mankato has showed poise, patiently waiting to find receivers and several times eluding sacks. He has completed 7 of 14 passes, but connected on 4 of his last 5. Nelson has 89 yards through the air, and another 49 on the ground, on 11 carries. He appeared to lead the Gophers on a scoring drive just before halftime, but Jordan Wettstein's 52-yard field-goal attempt sail just over the right upright and was ruled no good.
Wisconsin senior Montee Ball has just 35 yards on 10 carries at halftime.