GOPHERS OFFENSE VS. BADGERS DEFENSE

Wisconsin hasn’t missed a beat since D-coordinator Dave Aranda left for LSU. Justin Wilcox (previously USC) added new wrinkles to the 3-4 scheme. Jim Leonhard has worked wonders with the secondary, as the Badgers have 17 interceptions with seven TD passes allowed. Advantage: Wisconsin.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Badgers kicker Rafael Gaglianone suffered a season-ending back injury, so the Badgers have turned to senior Andrew Endicott, who is 10-for-15 on field goals. Advantage: Gophers

Player to watch

Wisconsin junior T.J. Watt was a tight end before switching to outside linebacker last year. Now he looks like the kind of NFL prospect his brother, J.J., became at Wisconsin. Watt ranks second in the Big Ten with eight sacks and has 11½ tackles for loss. He added a pick-six last week at Purdue.

THE OPPONENT

Wisconsin has played the nation’s 15th-toughest schedule, according to sportsreference.com, and the Badgers are riding a five-game winning streak. One more win would give Wisconsin its sixth 10-win season in the past eight years.

GOPHERS DEFENSE VS. BADGERS OFFENSE

Redshirt freshman Alex Hornibrook starts at QB, but Chryst routinely spells him with senior Bart Houston. Both have been effective. The Badgers have averaged 233.3 rushing yards over the past six games, but the Gophers counter with the Big Ten’s third-best run defense. Advantage: Even

INTANGIBLES

The weather — partly cloudy, about 48 degrees — shouldn’t be a factor. The Badgers are dominant at home, but the Gophers have nothing to lose. Advantage: Wisconsin

JOE’S PREDICTION

Wisconsin: 20

Gophers:13

An impressive Gophers defensive effort isn’t enough to reclaim the Axe.