It’s Axe Week, Badger fans! The week where our Wisconsin Badgers play against the rival Minnesota Golden Gophers. The week where Bucky goes head to head with Goldy on Twitter, trading petty insults back and forth. The week where the border becomes hostile ground. And the week where Wisconsin claims the coveted Paul Bunyan axe, yet again. Wisconsin has won the axe 13 years in a row, the longest streak in the history of the axe.
You have probably heard of the axe, but do you know the history behind it? Never fear, I have all of the answers to your unasked questions!
The rivalry between Wisconsin and Minnesota began in 1890, when the Badgers traveled to Minnesota to get beaten by a rivalry 63-0. The two teams have faced off every year since, except for 1906.
In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt suspended college football rivalry games because of safety concerns and player fatality issues. But since 1907, the Gophers and Badgers have faced each other once a year, making this rivalry the longest uninterrupted rivalry series in all of Division 1 college football.
In 1930, the “Slab of Bacon” was introduced to the rivalry. The bacon was considered lost after 1943, when a Wisconsin student was supposed to deliver it to Minnesota but was lost in the commotion after Minnesota fans stormed the field. The Slab of Bacon was later found in 1994 in a Wisconsin storage closet and is now on display at Camp Randall.
In 1948, Paul Bunyan’s Axe was introduced to the rivalry. After filling up the whole handle with past outcomes, the original axe was retired to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003.
A new axe was introduced in 2004, and Wisconsin has yet to allow Minnesota to win it. The series between the two teams is currently tied at 59 wins each and 8 ties. Wisconsin has never led the rivalry and has the chance to do so for the first time on Saturday.
Paul Chryst is undefeated in the rivalry and will look to keep it that way this week. The #5 ranked Badgers will head to Minneapolis to defend the axe when the two teams face off at 2:30 on Saturday afternoon.