for this game

Brown helps Wisconsin send Minnesota to 10th straight loss

Nov 18, 2007 - 1:59 AM MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Freshman Zach Brown helped Wisconsin add to Minnesota's futility.

Brown ran for a career-high 256 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries as the 24th-ranked Badgers posted a 41-34 victory over the lowly Golden Gophers in the regular-season finale for both teams on Saturday.

It was the fourth straight win over Minnesota for Wisconsin (9-3, 5-3 Big Ten), which retained the Paul Bunyan Axe trophy.

"We had some opportunities in the first half that we were not able to capitalize on," Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema said. "However, we were able to persevere and play better in the second half. We scored early and we were able to get some key plays to get the victory."

The Golden Gophers (1-11, 0-8) finished the season with 10 straight losses as Minnesota went winless in conference play for the first time since 1988.

With the game tied at 20-20, Brown's 50-yard run set up a 1-yard score from Bill Rentmeester to give Wisconsin a seven-point lead 30 seconds into the fourth quarter.

Wit the Badgers leading, 34-27, Brown scored his second touchdown of the day on a 4-yard run with 5:11 to play. It was the second straight 100-yard rushing performance for Brown, who had 108 yards and two touchdowns in last week's 37-21 victory over Michigan.

"Zach played very well today," Bielema said. "After P.J. Hill got hurt, Brown really stepped up his game. As a freshman it is a difficult task to step in and perform, but Brown was able to do this and help us get to a bowl game."

Minnesota had one last possession to tie the game but safety Ben Strickland intercepted Adam Weber to give the Badgers the ball on the Golden Gophers 13-yard line with 56 seconds left.

"Kind of like the season has gone, our kids fought their guts out, they played extremely hard and did a lot of things well today," Minnesota coach Tim Brewster said. "I couldn't be more proud of them. Sitting here looking at the statistics, we did some really good things.

"But we didn't win the football game, and that's what we're here to do at the University of Minnesota."

After the teams traded field goals in the first quarter, Weber hit Eric Decker on the first play of the second half for a 22-yard touchdown to give the Golden Gophers a 10-3 lead.

Joel Monroe kicked a 24-yard field goal to give Minnesota a 10-point lead before Wisconsin's Tyler Donovan cut the deficit to 13-10 on an 8-yard touchdown run with 1:59 left in the first half.

After David Gilreath returned a punt 57 yards to the 18-yard line, Brown scored two plays later on a 16-yard run to give the Badgers the lead, 17-13, with 12:31 left in the third quarter.

Taylor Mehlhaff kicked a 20-yard field goal but Duane Bennett tied the game at 20-20 on a 3-yard touchdown run with just under two minutes left in the third.

Weber finished with 352 yards with three touchdown and two interception on 21-of-37 passing. The redshirt freshman also broke the school record for touchdown passes in a season with 24.

"This week we came in wanting to play for the seniors because we knew it was going to be their last game," Weber said. "We played hard and we gave it all we had. We never gave up and we kept on fighting."