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White tramples Minnesota in 38-13 win by Wisconsin

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White tramples Minnesota in 38-13 win by Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. (AP) James White raced 15 times through Minnesota's defense for 175 yards rushing and three touchdowns, carrying Wisconsin to a 38-13 victory over Minnesota on Saturday, the ninth straight time the Badgers have beaten the Gophers to keep Paul Bunyan's Axe.

Montee Ball let his partner steal the show for most of the afternoon but still muscled his way for 166 yards on 24 attempts and two fourth-quarter scores to put the game out of reach and push the Badgers (6-2, 3-1 Big Ten) to their 21st win in a row at Camp Randall Stadium. That matches LSU for the longest current streak in major college football.

Freshman Philip Nelson was the surprise starting quarterback for the Gophers (4-3, 0-3). He threw two touchdown passes, but the Badgers turned one interception into a third-quarter field goal. Three plays after the second pick, Ball scored his second touchdown after another spirit-breaking burst through the middle.

Nelson was thrust into action for Minnesota because MarQueis Gray's sprained left ankle wasn't quite right and Max Shortell hurt his neck the week before.

Wisconsin has spoiled Minnesota's upset hopes every year since 2003 and hasn't lost at home since 1994 in this border-state series that began in 1890. The Gophers played well enough on defense early to have a chance heading into the second half.

But as the Badgers so often have done, they just kept pounding the ball into the line and watching White and Ball go to work. Sometimes they had to wiggle back and forth to find holes, but they routinely bounced off the first tackler or two. Other carries were much easier, with only the green of the turf and the red of the end zone ahead of them.

The Gophers' harassment of Joel Stave, who finished 7 for 15 for 106 yards, barely made a difference.

The Gophers took the opening kickoff, so Nelson didn't have any time on the sideline to get any more nervous than he surely already was. Zac Epping's third-down shotgun snap sailed to Nelson's left, and he had to hustle to cover the ball so the Gophers could punt from their 16.

Nelson overcame that ominous start with a six-play, 65-yard cruise to the end zone later in the first quarter. He found wide-open Drew Goodger for 18 yards for his first college completion and Brandon Green from 16 yards out for the score. Jordan Wettstein's extra point banged off the right goal post, though, keeping the Gophers from tying the game.

That was Wettstein's first miss in 18 extra-point attempts this year, but he's only 6 for 12 on field-goal tries with misses from 32 and 26 yards. Wettstein's 51-yard try at the end of the first half had plenty of distance and even appeared to sail directly over the left upright, but it was ruled wide to preserve Wisconsin's 14-6 lead.

After dominating Purdue with 645 total yards in last week's 38-14 win, the Badgers didn't move the ball with the same proficiency, particularly early. This is an improved Gophers defense but still a group that let Iowa's Mark Weisman rush for 177 yards and a touchdown and Northwestern's Venric Mark gain 182 yards and two scores on the ground.

Stave was especially erratic. He also hung on too long and took two sacks, by D.L. Wilhite and Ra'Shede Hageman for a total loss of 20 yards, to push the Badgers out of field-goal range and forced their third of four first-half punts.

But the Gophers, relying frequently on draws and zone read runs up the middle by Nelson, didn't do much to help their defense out. It was only a matter of time that the Badgers were able to wear down the Gophers with what they've done so well for so many years - ramming the ball straight ahead and reaping the rewards.

After the Gophers were stopped on third-and-1 at the Wisconsin 49 for no gain, Christian Eldred's punt went just 19 yards. And five plays later, White was in the end zone again after a 34-yard burst with 1:49 left stretched the lead to eight.

Coach Jerry Kill decided to burn Nelson's redshirt, giving the kid who grew up near Madison with parents who met in school at Wisconsin a chance to make his debut in a difficult environment. Nelson, who moved to Minnesota before high school and was a highly sought recruit out of Mankato, finished 13 for 24 for 149 yards. He ran 16 times for 68 yards.

But he didn't have much to work with. Starting left tackle Ed Olson didn't make the trip because of an injury. Gray played wide receiver because several of Minnesota's top passing targets were hurt.

Over these nine straight wins against the Gophers, the Badgers are averaging about 39 points per game and winning by a margin of more than 16 points.

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Follow Dave Campbell on Twitter:http://www.twitter.com/DaveCampbellAP

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

The Capitals are the Eastern Conference Champions!

After dispatching Tampa Bay in Game 7, the Caps claimed the conference crown for just the second time in franchise history. But they're not done yet. Now it's on to Vegas to face the Golden Knights for the Stanley Cup.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps' win over the Lightning and look ahead to the matchup with the Knights.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

The pre-draft workout process can be an exhausting journey for players, with so many flights, hotel rooms and NBA arenas that they can all blend in together. Michigan big man Moritz Wagner, though, may have felt a sense of comfort in Washington for his pre-draft workout for the Wizards on Wednesday.

It was just over a year ago that his Michigan Wolverines cut down the nets at Capital One Arena as champions of the Big Ten conference.

"It was good memories, man. Never gets old," he said while glancing around the stadium.

Wagner, 21, will be seeing a lot more of Capital One Arena once he joins the NBA ranks and it is conceivable he ends up in Washington. They hold the 15th pick in the first round and the 44th pick in the second round and Wagner could be within their reach.

Wagner had an impressive workout in Washington and could provide what the Wizards need. He is a big, mobile and can spread the floor. Wagner was terrific at stepping out to hit threes off pick-and-rolls at Michigan and that ability would work well with Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall.

Wagner measured in at just under 7-feet at this month's NBA Combine, fifth-tallest among those who attended. He averaged 14.6 points as a junior this past season and made 39.4 percent of his threes on 4.1 attempts per game.

With three years of college experience and an NBA-ready jumper, Wagner believes he can step right in and help the Wizards.

"I think what we did at Michigan, sharing the ball and playing as a team, very organized basketball, that can help big-time," he said. "It's basically pro basketball I was playing on a different level."

As Wagner will tell you, he is very confident in his abilities. He is comfortable in his own skin and that includes openly discussing his faults. He feels good about his ability to score at the next level. Defense is where he needs to prove himself.

Despite his size, Wagner wasn't much of a rim protector in college. He averaged just a half-block a game as a junior. The Wizards need rim protection badly and he likely would not provide that.

Wagner, though, believes he can bring more to the table defensively than the numbers would suggest.

"I think I've been an offensive guy all of my life, but the more that you mature as a player, you understand that both sides are important. Without defense, you aren't going to play at any level," he said.

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen, especially with the way the league is going. Switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Wagner is from Germany and looks up to Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 21st season and will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Nowitzki's game has always been built around shooting and, though he developed into a decent shot-blocker in his prime, was never an elite rim protector.

Wagner hopes to follow in his footsteps playing a similar style.

"He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball," Wagner said. "It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

Hear more from Wagner in his one-on-one interview with Chris Miller in our latest Wizards Tipoff podcast. His interview can also be found in the video above:

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