1. Athan Kaliakmanis called game
Things looked bleak for the Gophers early in the fourth quarter when they trailed 16-13 and saw quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis sacked twice in three plays, forcing a punt. After that, the redshirt freshman took the game over, completing seven of nine passes for 142 yards. He led a nine-play, 69-yard drive that tied the score 16-16 with 7:58 left, then drove the Gophers 71 yards in six plays, capped with the winning 45-yard touchdown pass to Le'Meke Brockington with 3:40 to play.
2. A sign of the future at wide receiver?
In last week's 13-10 loss at Iowa, Gophers wide receivers caught four passes for 68 yards. On Saturday, the wideout trio of Daniel Jackson, Dylan Wright and Brockington combined to catch 12 passes for 224 yards. Throw in tight end Brevyn Span-Ford's seven catches for 95 yards, and Kaliakmanis had 319 passing yards, the team's most since Tanner Morgan's 368-yard game against Iowa in 2019. Jackson and Wright have two years of eligibility remaining. Brockington has three.
3. The Gophers can win in more than one way
Turning the game over to running back Mohamed Ibrahim and his offensive line has been coach P.J. Fleck's plan for most of the season, but Saturday showed that the Gophers don't have to always rely on one of the nation's best running backs to win. Ibrahim rushed 27 times for 70 yard as his streak of 100-yard games ended at 19. During a postgame radio interview, Ibrahim gladly took the win over personal glory.
4. Wisconsin implodes at the end
When Wisconsin reached the Gophers 5-yard line on their last possession, overtime seemed possible. The Badgers, however, avoided that by promptly marching backward. First, offensive tackle Riley Mahlman was called for holding, putting Wisconsin at the 15. Then came three false start penalties in a four-play span. That left backup QB Chase Wolf facing fourth-and-goal from the 25 with 5 seconds left. His last-gasp pass fell incomplete as time expired.
5. The Gophers know how to celebrate when they win the Axe
In 2018, the Gophers ended a 14-games losing streak to Wisconsin by beating the Badgers 37-15 in Madison, claiming Paul Bunyan's Axe for the first time since 2003. They celebrated by dousing themselves and the visitors' locker room with Axe body spray. Last year in Minneapolis, the Gophers won 23-13, and the game operations crew blared House of Pain's "Jump Around'' – a standard at Camp Randall Stadium – after Minnesota fans stormed the field. Back in Madison on Saturday, the Gophers reveled in their third Axe win in five years by enjoying victory cigars in the locker room.