MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin capped a second-half rally with a pair of safeties and a touchdown off a Minnesota turnover in the fourth quarter, beating the mistake-prone Golden Gophers 35-32 in Big Ten football at Camp Randall Stadium today.
The come-from-behind victory was marred by an injury to Badgers wide receiver Kyle Jefferson, who was hospitalized with potential head and neck injuries after he took a hard hit in the second quarter and was taken off the field in an ambulance.
Wisconsin (6-5, 3-5 Big Ten) became bowl-eligible despite losing four straight to begin conference play.
The Badgers fell behind 21-7 at halftime, but rallied to tie the game at 24 on a 1-yard touchdown run by P.J. Hill -- his second in the second half.
The ensuing kickoff was caught by Minnesota's Troy Stoudermire, but a hit by Wisconsin's Antonio Fenelus jarred the ball loose and sent it bounding backward. After a scrum in the end zone, the ball trickled out of bounds for a safety to give the Badgers a 26-24 lead.
Wisconsin punted on its next possession, giving the ball back to Minnesota on its own 7. Quarterback Adam Weber took a sack and threw an incomplete pass, and Minnesota was called for a false start to set up third-and-16 at the 1. Wisconsin's Mike Newkirk sacked Weber in the end zone, giving the Badgers a 28-24 lead with 10:47 left in the game.
It was the first time Wisconsin had recorded two safeties in a game since Sept. 11, 2004, against UNLV.
The collapse wasn't quite complete for Minnesota (7-4, 3-4). Running back Shady Salamon fumbled a pitch from Weber, and the ball was recovered by Wisconsin linebacker Jonathan Casillas at the Minnesota 11. Wisconsin's John Clay scored on a 5-yard run two plays later, extending the lead to 35-24.
Salamon redeemed himself on the Gophers' next drive, catching a 13-yard touchdown pass from Weber and running up the middle for a two-point conversion to cut Wisconsin's lead to 35-32 with 4:15 left.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)