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Stocco, Hill lead Wisconsin rout of Minnesota

Oct 14, 2006 - 7:00 PM MADISON, Wisconsin (Ticker) -- John Stocco and P.J. Hill ensured Wisconsin would not need a stunning finish to defeat Big Ten Conference rival Minnesota.

Stocco tossed a career high-tying four touchdowns and Hill ran for 164 yards and two scores as the 25th-ranked Badgers crushed the Golden Gophers, 48-12, to retain Paul Bunyan's Axe.

Tight end Travis Beckum had five catches for 118 yards and two TDs for Wisconsin, which has won 10 of the last 12 meetings in the most-played rivalry in Division I-A. This was the 116th encounter between the programs.

"I have really emphasized this week to our players that I like the growth that they have shown me from week in and week out," Badgers coach Bret Bielema said. "I told them last night that in my evaluation sitting back as a head coach, I thought their Tuesday and Wednesday preparation was the best I've seen all year."

Last year, the Badgers rallied for a 38-34 win in which they scored two touchdowns in the final 2:10. Wisconsin produced the go-ahead touchdown after recovering a blocked punt in the end zone with 30 seconds left.

This meeting was far less dramatic, as the Badgers (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten) took a 25-point cushion into halftime and cruised thereafter.

Minnesota (2-5, 0-4) got off to a rough start and never recovered as it lost for a sixth straight time in Madison. On the Gophers' first drive, running back Amir Pinnix lost the ball when hit by linebacker Mark Zalewski and defensive back Jack Ikegwuono picked up the fumble and ran 50 yards for a score.

"The football is a precious thing," Gophers coach Glen Mason said. "You have to take such good care of it, because if you don't, things like that will happen to you. I don't feel like we were snakebitten, but that's how football goes. There are plays like that in every game."

Hill opened up a 14-0 advantage on a five-yard run later in the first quarter before Stocco pushed the lead to 28-3 with second-quarter TD passes of eight yards to Luke Swan and two yards to Andy Crooks.

A redshirt freshman, Hill's sixth 100-yard game of the season gave him 1,011 yards on the campaign. He became the third Badger freshman to surpass 1,000 yards in a season, joining Ron Dayne (1996) and Anthony Davis (2001).

"The thing I like about P.J. is he just continues to get better," Bielema said. "He plays himself into shape and doesn't miss practice. He has really taken another step forward in just taking care of his body. You're a starting running back in the Big Ten Conference, you're going to get those reps and those carries. He has done certain this to help himself on Saturday."

Stocco connected on a 41-yard pass to Beckum before finding the receiver for a 40-yard scoring strike and a 35-3 lead 59 seconds into the second half.

"The defense gave us that and on the second catch there was no corner out there so I just ran a go route and it was there, so I took advantage of it," Beckum said.

Stocco, who completed 12-of-19 passes for 193 yards, hooked up with Beckum again for a four-yard TD with 8:52 to play that capped the scoring.

Wisconsin's 141 points in its last three contests are its most over a three-game span in the same seasons since producing 195 points in the first three games of the 1915 campaign.

Bryan Cupito was just 13-of-28 for 94 yards and an interception for the Gophers, who have lost four straight games. Pinnix finished with 97 yards and a TD on 19 carries.

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