Associated Press, Published October 20 2012
White tramples Minnesota in 38-13 win by Wisconsin
The Golden Gophers freshman signal caller, who didn’t learn he’d be the starter until the team arrived in Madison on Friday, engineered two impressive scoring drives but struggled to effectively move the offense at other times as Minnesota fell to the Badgers 38-13 in Big Ten college football.
Nelson, the former Minnesota Associated Press Player of the Year for high school football, was expected to redshirt this season but was pressed into starting duty due to injuries to MarQueis Gray and Max Shortell. Minnesota coach Jerry Kill said he didn’t want to deal with the nagging injuries to Gray and Shortell much longer and desired to get Nelson some experience for next season, prompting the decision to start him.
“We’ve got to move forward. So we decided to do that, and he was very excited about it,” Kill said. “We made sure he felt good about it through that process. There’s no question we made a good decision, and he did some good things today.”
Nelson completed 13 of 24 passes for 149 yards. He had two touchdown passes and one interception and added 16 carries for 67 yards. Kill said he intends to start Nelson for the remainder of the season.
“It felt really great to be out there with my teammates,” Nelson said. “The coaches made the decision, and I just went with it. I wasn’t going to back down from an opportunity like that.”
James White raced 15 times through Minnesota’s defense for 175 yards rushing and three touchdowns, the ninth consecutive time the Badgers have beaten the Gophers to keep Paul Bunyan’s Axe.
Montee Ball let his partner steal the show for most of the afternoon but still muscled his way for 166 yards and 24 attempts and two fourth-quarter scores to put the game out of reach and push the Badgers (6-2, 3-1) to the 21st win in a row at Camp Randall. That’s one behind LSU for the longest current home winning streak in major college football.
Wisconsin has spoiled Minnesota’s upset hopes every year since 2003 and hasn’t lost at home since 1994 in this border-state series that began in 1890. The Gophers (4-3, 0-3) played well enough on defense early to have a chance heading into the second half.
But the Gophers, relying frequently on draws and zone read runs up the middle by Nelson, didn’t do much to help their defense out.
Kill decided to burn Nelson’s redshirt, giving the kid who grew up near Madison with parents who met in school at Wisconsin a chance to make his debut in a difficult environment.
Several members of Nelson’s family attended the game.
“I definitely had dreams to play some (Division I) football, wherever it was,” Nelson said. “I’m really thankful to be here and have such great teammates and be able to share the opportunity and the experience with these guys.”
Nelson moved to Minnesota before high school and was a highly sought recruit out of Mankato. Wisconsin pursued Nelson before he decided to play for the Gophers.
“We recruited him. His dad played here,” Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said. “We had heard about him for a number of years. It obviously didn’t go in that direction, but he’s a very good football player.”
Minnesota 6 0 7 0 – 13
Wisconsin 7 7 10 14 – 38
Wis – White 14 run (French kick), 9:21.
Minn – Green 16 pass from Nelson (kick failed), 6:14.
Wis – White 34 run (French kick), 1:49.
Wis – FG French 33, 7:43.
Wis – White 48 run (French kick), 5:22.
Minn – Barker 12 pass from Nelson (Wettstein kick), :12.
Wis – M.Ball 14 run (French kick), 10:57.
Wis – M.Ball 44 run (French kick), 9:21.
A – 80,587.
First downs 12 24
Rushes-yards 30-96 54-337
Passing 149 106
Comp-Att-Int 13-24-2 7-15-0
Return Yards 20 1
Punts-Avg. 7-36.0 5-35.8
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties-Yards 3-30 2-20
Time of Possession 24:10 34:56
RUSHING: Minnesota, Nelson 16-67, R.Williams 6-20, Kirkwood 5-8, Maye 1-7, Engel 1-5, Team 1-(minus 11). Wisconsin, White 15-175, M.Ball 24-166, Gordon 10-20, Lewis 1-2, Stave 4-(minus 26).
PASSING: Minnesota, Nelson 13-24-2-149. Wisconsin, Stave 7-15-0-106.
RECEIVING: Minnesota, Green 3-44, Barker 3-36, Gray 3-20, Goodger 2-27, McDonald 1-19, Plsek 1-3. Wisconsin, Abbrederis 2-68, Fredrick 1-12, Pedersen 1-11, Doe 1-7, Wozniak 1-6, Watt 1-2.