Minnesota-Wisconsin predictions roundup

Paul Bunyan’s Axe is on the line once again, and the stakes have rarely been this high.

The Big Ten West is on the line, while Minnesota can move one step closer to a spot in the College Football Playoff with a win over Wisconsin.

Vegas likes the Badgers to reclaim the axe, but the experts are pretty split. Can Wisconsin’s once-dominant defense hang with Minnesota’s high-flying offense? Can the Gophers’ defense slow down star running back Jonathan Taylor.

Check out our roundup of predictions from around the web.

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Pete Fiutak of College Football News: Minnesota 24, Wisconsin 21. “The Gopher passing game will connect on two big plays, the defense will bend but won’t break time after time in the fourth quarter, and it’ll be on to face the Buckeyes in what will amount to a College Football Playoff quarterfinal game – at least for Minnesota.”

Ralph D. Russo of The Associated Press: Minnesota 24, Wisconsin 23.

Bill Bender of Sporting News: Wisconsin 28, Minnesota 24. “Wisconsin is favored, just like Iowa was two weeks ago. The Gophers won this matchup last season, and this is a big spot with the winner going to Indianapolis for the Big Ten championship. Can the Gophers win another big one at home? We’ll stick with the favorite.”

Joe Tansey of Bleacher Report: Minnesota 24, Wisconsin 17. “A year ago, Minnesota discovered a way to beat Wisconsin despite conceding 120 rushing yards to Jonathan Taylor. The Gophers used three interceptions and a punt-return touchdown to open up a 22-point margin of victory at Camp Randall Stadium. They can follow a similar formula to secure the Big Ten West title and retain the Axe.”

David Kenyon of Bleacher Report: Minnesota 24, Wisconsin 20. “Four turnovers crushed Wisconsin in last year’s meeting, and the Badgers have 12 giveaways in their last five games. Plus, Minnesota has ceded just 3.7 yards per carry this season. The Gophers won’t silence Jonathan Taylor, but they’re capable of containing him.”

Chris Hummer of 247 Sports: Minnesota 24, Wisconsin 21. “Minnesota is equipped to stop the run, ranking 31st nationally in yards allowed per rush. This is also the best set of receivers the Badgers have seen since Ohio State tore apart the nation’s formerly No. 1 defense.”

Brad Crawford of 247 Sports: Wisconsin 27, Minnesota 24. “Minnesota is more explosive, but the Badgers have the best player on the field and that means something in games like this.”

Bill Connelly of ESPN: Minnesota 29, Wisconsin 28 (SP+ projection). “There’s plenty of burliness to go around in this one, though the most intriguing matchup will take form when Minnesota decides to pass. The Gophers are dynamite through the air, but Wisconsin has one of the best pass defenses in FBS.”

All three Athlon Sports analysts picked Minnesota to win.

Of USA Today’s six analysts, five are picking Wisconsin while one, Eddie Timanus, is picking the Gophers.

Sports Illustrated’s seven-analyst panel gives Minnesota the edge, 4-3. “The Badgers’ defense that was so good for the first half of the season has been springing some leaks lately: after giving up 4.8 points and 174 yards per game in the first six games, those numbers are 25.8 points and 382 yards over the last five.”