Wisconsin Defeats Minnesota in Annual Border Battle

Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

By: Krissy Birdsall

The University of Wisconsin-Madison defeated the University of Minnesota in the annual Border Battle for the 2021-2022 school year, 535-265. The Border Battle, which concluded on Monday, is a scoring system used by the athletic departments at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Minnesota to determine which athletic program claims athletic supremacy between the rival schools.

While the University of Wisconsin and the University of Minnesota have been known as bitter rivals for over 100 years, the Border Battle began during the 2004-2005 academic year as a way to calculate the superior athletic program between the two schools. While this is the second straight year that the University of Wisconsin has won the Border Battle, Minnesota holds a 10-8 overall advantage in the yearly rivalry.

In the first year of the Border battle, points were awarded to the 11 sports in which the universities met in head-to-head competition. The following year, the athletic departments changed the scoring system to include an additional 11 sports that did not meet in head-to-head competition; the points were awarded to the program that finished higher at the Big Ten Championship. 

Each sport in the Border Battle competes for a total of 40 points. For sports that involve head-to-head competition, such as football, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, men’s and women’s hockey, men’s and women’s basketball, wrestling, softball, and tennis, the points are awarded to the winner of each matchup. For head-to-head competitions that involve multiple games or meetups, the points are divided by the number of competitions, and the winner of each game or match receives the points. The sports that do not meet in annual head-to-head competitions, such as men’s and women’s cross country and track and field, men’s and women’s swim and dive, men’s and women’s golf, and rowing, the total points are awarded to the athletic program that finishes higher in the Big Ten Championship. Below highlights some of the biggest matchups during the 2021-2022 Border Battle:

UW-Madison Volleyball Defeats Minnesota en Route to NCAA Championship

The University of Wisconsin women’s volleyball played the Golden Gophers three times during their championship season. The first matchup between the rival schools occurred on October 1st, in which Wisconsin and Minnesota were both top ranked teams in the nation, with the Badgers ranked 5th and the Gophers ranked 7th. The University of Wisconsin swept the University of Minnesota, winning all three sets, 25-17, 5-21, and 25-17. The team was led by star-freshman Julia Orzol, who had a career-high 17 kills. Badger sensation Dana Rettke also added 13 kills and hit a match-high .611 in the victory. The Badger victory also marked the first Big Ten loss for the Golden Gopher

The second matchup between the schools occurred during the Big Ten match on November 21st. The teams battled to 5 sets, with Wisconsin edging Minnesota, 3-2. Minnesota won the first and third sets, 26-24 and 27-25. Wisconsin battled back, taking the second and fourth sets, 25-19 and 28-16. In the final set, Wisconsin went on a 4-0 run to jump to a 10-6 lead, led by Grace Lobery who had two kills in the last set. Wisconsin went on to win the set 15-12 off of a Minnesota hitting error. The Badgers were led by Dana Rettke, who boasted 21 kills, hitting .372 in the victory. Jade Demps also recorded a double-double with 18 kills and 14 digs. Wisconsin went on to win the outright Big Ten title, defeating Indiana 3-0 to claim the championship.

The final matchup, not a part of the Border Battle scoring occurring during the NCAA Championships quarterfinals on December 11th. The Badgers swept Minnesota, winning all three sets 25-18, 26-24, and 25-22. This victory launched Wisconsin to its third-straight national semifinal, in which the Badgers later defeated Louisville and Nebraska to claim the NCAA Championship for the first time in program history.

Minnesota Football Spoils Wisconsin’s Big Ten West Title

Heading into the final regular season game of the 2021 season, the University of Wisconsin-Madison controlled their own destiny. Their goal was simple: go into Minneapolis on November 27th and defeat the Golden Gophers, claim Paul Bunyan’s Axe, the Big Ten West title, and play Big Ten East champion Michigan. Instead, the Badgers found themselves stunned by PJ Fleck and his team of Golden Gophers, losing the rivalry game 23-13. 

Heading into halftime of the annual rivalry game, Wisconsin was up 10-6. The University of Minnesota came out of the locker room and went on a 14-3 scoring run in the third quarter. The Golden Gophers received the most help from their stifling defense, which picked off quarterback Graham Mertz at the Wisconsin 28 early in the third quarter. The interception resulted in a touchdown play from a Ky Thomas run 2 plays later which gave Minnesota the final lead change of the game. Overall, the Gophers held Mertz to 21 for 38, 171 and 1 INT. The defense also shut down freshman running back Braelon Allen, who only had 47 yards on 17 carries in the defeat.

The Minnesota victory was the second in four years for the program. Prior to that, Wisconsin had beaten Minnesota for 14 straight years. This was the first time that the Gophers held up Paul Bynyan’s Axe on their home turf since 2003. With the Wisconsin defeat, the Badgers also lost the Big Ten West title to the University of Iowa, and a shot to play the University of Michigan for the Big Ten Championship.

Wisconsin’s MBB Sweeps Minnesota During Their Big Ten Title Season

The University of Wisconsin Badgers swept the Minnesota Golden Gophers in both of their regular season games during the 2021-2022 season. The first game at the Kohl Center on January 30th saw a remarkable performance from Naismith finalist Johnny Davis, who scored 16 points and had a career-high 15 rebounds in the victory. The Badgers went on to defeat the Gophers 66-60. The team also featured three other players scoring double digit figures, including Brad Davison, Tyler Wahl and Steven Crowl scoring over 10 points. In the second game of the series, Wisconsin edged rival Minnesota to complete the Border Battle sweep, winning 68-67 on February 23rd. Wisconsin was led by sophomore forward Steven Crowl, who scored 20 points and notched 7 rebounds in the victory.

Wisconsin’s sweep marked a turning point in the basketball rivalry between the rival programs. Since 1999, the Badgers have won 33 of the last 42 matchups, and for the first time since 1973, they lead the Gophers in the all-time series, 105-104.

The complete list of results from this year’s Border Battle can be found here