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University of Wisconsin football players speak to the media after the 18th-ranked Badgers fell to the Minnesota Golden Gophers 23-13 in the Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, at Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

MINNEAPOLIS — The University of Wisconsin football team looked confused and disorganized a number of times Saturday during its 23-13 loss to Minnesota.

The No. 18 Badgers had multiple procedural penalties and burned a timeout in a third-and-short situation in the third quarter when they substituted incorrectly and didn’t have enough players in the huddle.

No single sequence showed the Badgers’ disarray at Huntington Bank Stadium more than what happened when they faced fourth-and-1 at their 21-yard line down by 10 with 4 minutes, 26 seconds remaining. UW sent out its punt unit and tried to go through with the punt before a false start on fullback John Chenal backed up the play 5 yards.

The offense returned to the field on fourth-and-6 and converted with a pass to tight end Jake Ferguson, but the Badgers burned a timeout after the false start to get in a play.

UW coach Paul Chryst said special teams coordinator Chris Haering typically is in charge of sending in the punt unit, but all decisions fall on him as coach.

“Never should’ve even been thinking the punt,” Chryst said. “Didn’t handle that well, flat out. … Everything goes through me, so it was a mistake on me, by me.”

UW eventually turned over the ball on downs to end the drive at its 33-yard line.

Pick a turning point

Minnesota snatched the momentum in the second half when quarterback Graham Mertz’s pass to the right flat intended for senior Kendric Pryor was intercepted by Minnesota freshman Justin Walley. The turnover set up Minnesota at the Badgers’ 28, and the Gophers scored two plays later.

“Giving them a short field, we’re up 10-6 and then quickly they scored on a short field,” Chryst said. “(We) didn’t do enough to win.”

University of Wisconsin football coach Paul Chryst speaks to the media after the 18th-ranked Badgers fell to the Minnesota Golden Gophers 23-13 in the Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, at Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Mertz’s pass was behind Pryor, but Pryor outjumped Walley and got his hands on the ball first. The two wrestled for the ball on the way to the ground and it appeared they had simultaneous possession, which would by rule be a catch for Pryor. As the two rolled upon hitting the ground, one of Pryor’s hands came off the ball and likely was the reason for the officials’ decision to call it an interception.

Pryor said he wasn’t surprised the call stood after review.

“They called it an interception and I just know on those types of plays and those calls, if there’s not clear-cut evidence, most likely it’s not getting overturned,” Pryor said. “I think if they would’ve called it a catch on the field at first, it would’ve remained a catch.”

The University of Wisconsin football team surrendered Paul Bunyan's Axe after the Minnesota Golden Gophers defeated the 18th-ranked Badgers 23-13 on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, at Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.


This article originally ran on madison.com.

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