Wisconsin Badgers at Minnesota Golden Gophers (+16.5, 49.5)
There will be plenty on the line in the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe on Saturday when Wisconsin invades No. 23 Minnesota in a pivotal affair between ranked Big Ten rivals. The 17th-ranked Badgers are coming off a 51-3 dismantling of Indiana, their fifth straight win since a narrow loss at No. 3 Ohio State. Wisconsin's chances of catching the Buckeyes in the Leaders Division are extremely small, but coach Gary Andersen's team hopes it can crawl into the at-large BCS picture with a solid finish.
The Gophers are on a four-game winning streak and will be well-rested from a 24-10 triumph over Penn State on Nov. 9. They still have a chance to claim the top spot in the Legends Division if leader Michigan State stumbles at Northwestern before hosting Minnesota next week. The Gophers own a slim 58-56-8 advantage in the most-played FBS rivalry, but the Badgers have won nine consecutive meetings.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE: Wisconsin opened -15.5 and is now -16.5. The total opened at 50.
WEATHER: Temperatures will be in the mid-teens with clear skies.
ABOUT WISCONSIN (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten): To say that the Badgers ground game is clicking right now would be a woeful understatement. Three individual rushers topped 100 yards and the team amassed 554 yards on the ground - the second-highest total in team history - in the rout of the Hoosiers. The tandem of Melvin Gordon (1,306 yards) and James White (1,156) gives Wisconsin the status as the only FBS team with multiple players over the 1,000-yard mark.
ABOUT MINNESOTA (8-2, 4-2 Big Ten): The Gophers also have utilized the ground game for recent success, climbing to 20th in FBS play in rushing yards per game at 218.5 (Wisconsin is sixth at 307.9). David Cobb's emergence has been the catalyst, as the unheralded running back has recorded four straight 100-yard rushing efforts and has 405 total yards in his last two contests. Cobb and company will meet their match in a Badgers team that is seventh in FBS in rushing defense (98.8).
* Over is 12-1 in the last 13 meetings.
* Underdog is 5-1 ATS in their last six meetings.
* Golden Gophers are 4-0 ATS in their last four conference games.
* Under is 5-1 in Badgers last six games overall.
1. Gordon is averaging 8.51 yards per carry in his career.
2. Gophers QB Philip Nelson has completed 63 percent of his passes while throwing for seven touchdowns with no interceptions during the four-game winning streak.
3. Wisconsin would need to be ranked in the top 14 in the BCS standings to gain an at-large berth. It enters Saturday's play 19th.