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Tom Oates: Grading Wisconsin Badgers' performance in victory over Minnesota Golden Gophers

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Tom Oates grades the Wisconsin Badgers' performance in their 20-17 overtime victory over the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. 

Offense: C-minus

Garrett Groshek scored on a perfectly blocked 39-yard touchdown run up the middle and finished with 154 yards on 24 carries. What he lacks in speed, he makes up for in toughness, strength and just enough quickness. Graham Mertz was off-target on many throws down the field. Even without its best player, the makeshift line held up well.

University of Wisconsin senior running back Garret Groshek speaks to the media about his career-high rushing performance Saturday in the Badgers' 20-17 overtime victory over the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. 

Defense: B

Perhaps because it had six pass-rushers, UW lost running back Cam Wiley on a wheel route and late-arriving Scott Nelson missed the tackle on Minnesota's first touchdown pass. Eric Burrell's acrobatic interception in the end zone kept Minnesota from leading at the half. Leo Chenal and Jack Sanborn were all over the field making plays.

Special teams: B

Collin Larsh missed a 46-yard field-goal attempt short and to the right. Wind was a factor, but his range hasn't improved much. Larsh is money on short kicks, though. Can a punter be a team's most valuable player? Andy Vujnovich had another good game. Jack Eschenbach sent dangerous Chris Autman-Bell to the sideline with a big hit.

Coaching: B

Paul Chryst was smart to preserve most of Groshek's carries for the fourth quarter, when he overpowered the tiring Gophers. The first-down deep ball Minnesota intercepted late in regulation was a poor play call with untested Chase Wolf at quarterback. Jim Leonhard got the slant patterns shut down after the Gophers were successful early.

University of Wisconsin football coach Paul Chryst speaks to the media after the Badgers defeated the Minnesota Golden Gophers 20-17 in overtime Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. 

Overall: C-plus

UW's toothless offense failed to get much going until late, but the defense and special teams kept the Badgers in the game and they toughed out an overtime victory over their arch-rivals. The win snapped a three-game losing streak, evened UW's record at 3-3 and kept Paul Bunyan's Axe in Madison. UW wasn't pretty, but it got the job done.

Badgers take down Golden Gophers in overtime


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