November 10, 2008

Inside the numbers: Minnesota

MADISON, Wis. - In last season's meeting, the Wisconsin football team put up 443 total yards of offense en route to its 41-34 shootout win over rival Minnesota. The Badgers finished that season 9-3 and received a bid in the Outback Bowl. The Gophers on the other hand, struggled to a 1-11 campaign and had to stay home over the holidays.

This season, though, the tables have been turned as it's Minnesota that will have a winning record when the two teams meet again this Saturday at Camp Randall stadium. The following is a gander inside the numbers before the "Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe."

118: Saturday afternoon's meeting between these bitter rivals will be the 118th game of the series. Overall, the Gophers hold the 59-50-8 edge over Wisconsin, but UW has won 11 of the past 13 meetings between the schools.

1890: The first game of this storied rivalry, the longest in all of division 1-A football, took place in the year 1890. Since then, the game has been played every year except for 1906.

6: UW has won the past six games played in Madison by a whopping 22.5 points per game. Overall, the Badgers hold a 28-21-6 lead in Madison.

37: Seems to be the magic number to claim victory in recent years has been 37. Over the past eight meetings, the winning team has scored at least that many points.

5: Number of current Badger players on the roster who hail from Minnesota. Starting wide receivers David Gilreath (New Hope) and Isaac Anderson (Minneapolis) are joined by linebacker Blake Sorensen (Eden Prairie), offensive lineman Joe Schafer (Mendota Heights) and defensive lineman Brendan Kelly (Eden Prairie).

441: Coming into the match-up with the Gophers, the Badger running game is as hot as it has been all year. Overall, three Wisconsin players toppled the 100-yard rushing plateau last week against the Hoosier en route to 441 total rushing yards in the game. It was the first time in UW history that three players accomplished that feat in one game.

298.3: UW's defense has also been playing well in recent games. Over the past three contests, opponents have averaged only 298.3 total yards. In conference games, the Badgers rank third in the Big Ten in total defense.

6: The amount of points that separate the current 5-5 Badger squad with one that could have been 8-2 had the ball bounced a certain way. Losses to Ohio State (3), Michigan (2) and Michigan State (1) have haunted UW's season.

1,548: Combined rushing yards of P.J. Hill (845) and John Clay (703) for the season. The two have also combined for 15 rushing touchdowns. Clay averages 5.7 yards per rush while Hill averages 4.9 per carry.

1,437: All-purpose yards Gilreath has on the season. Overall, he has 290 rushing yards, 329 receiving yards, 111 punt return yards and 707 kick return yards.

24.9: Minnesota averages nearly 25 points per game as they have already won six more games this season as they did a year ago.

2,256: Gopher quarterback Adam Weber, who UW heavily recruited, has thrown for 2,256 yards so far this season. To compliment his yardage, he has thrown 11 touchdown passes and only 5 interceptions.

Overall, his passing yardage is 1,307 more than UW leading passer Allan Evridge's 949 passing yards. In case you were wondering, Weber also has 1,486 more than Dustin Sherer's 770 passing yards.

142: What has to be considered a good sign for UW, Minnesota has allowed opponents to rush for an average of 26 more yards than it has been able to muster. Overall, the Gophers allow 142 rushing yards per game while only gaining 116 of its own.

227.6: Coincidentally, Minnesota also allows more passing yards (227.6) to opponents than it throws for (226.8). Still, the Gophers have compiled a record of 7-3 and currently sit tied for fourth in the Big Ten with a 3-3 conference mark.

892: Although he is banged up and his status for the upcoming trophy game against UW remains in question, Gopher wide receiver Eric Decker has caught 74 passes for 892 yards on the season. That number is good for second in the conference.

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