Minnesota–Wisconsin football rivalry
The Minnesota–Wisconsin football rivalry is an American college football rivalry between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Wisconsin Badgers. It is the most-played rivalry in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, with 127 meetings between the two teams. The winner of the game receives Paul Bunyan's Axe, a tradition that started in 1948 after the first trophy, the Slab of Bacon, disappeared after the 1943 game when the Badgers were meant to turn it over to the Golden Gophers. Minnesota and Wisconsin first played in 1890 and have met every year since, except for 1906. Wisconsin leads the series 60–59–8. Wisconsin took the series lead for the first time after shutting out Minnesota 31–0 in the 2017 game; Minnesota had led the overall series since 1902, at times by as many as 20 games. Wisconsin has won the last 14 meetings; the longest win streak by either team.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (November 2014)
The rivalry was first played in 1890 on Minnesota's campus, in Minneapolis, resulting in a 63–0 Minnesota victory. Theron Lyman led Wisconsin to its first win over Minnesota in 1894. The game became a conference rivalry with the creation of the Western Conference (later the Big Ten Conference) in 1896. In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt suspended college football rivalry games for safety concerns, due to player injuries and fatalities on the field. It is, to date, the only time that the two teams have not played each other. It is uninterrupted since then, currently making it the longest uninterrupted rivalry in FBS Division 1 college football.
The 2014 game decided the Big Ten West champion; Wisconsin defeated Minnesota 34–24 to go to the 2014 Big Ten Football Championship Game against Ohio State. The last time the rivalry determined a Big Ten Conference champion was in 1962 when #3 Wisconsin defeated #5 Minnesota for a berth to the 1963 Rose Bowl.
Slab of Bacon
The rivalry's first trophy was the "Slab of Bacon", in use from 1930 to 1943. Created by R. B. Fouch of Minneapolis, it is a piece of black walnut wood with a football at the center bearing a letter that becomes "M" or "W" depending on which way the trophy is hung. The word "BACON" is carved at both ends, implying that the winner has "brought home the bacon." The trophy's tenure ended when Minnesota's 1943 victory in Minnesota led to the fans rushing the field. Wisconsin student Peg Watrous was to bring the trophy to a Minnesota representative after the game, but could not find her in the commotion, and subsequently lost track of the "bacon". Reportedly, the trophy was sent to Minnesota's locker room, but coach George Hauser refused it, suggesting such traditions be held off until after World War II. It was subsequently lost; a new trophy, "Paul Bunyan's Axe", was introduced in 1948.
The trophy was lost for over 50 years. In 1992, Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez joked that "we took home the bacon, and kept it." In 1994, Wisconsin intern Will Roleson found it in an old storage closet at Camp Randall Stadium. It had evidently been maintained for some time, as game scores through 1970 were painted on the back. It is now displayed at the Camp Randall Stadium football offices.
Trophy record: Minnesota, 11–3 (.786)
Paul Bunyan's Axe
The Paul Bunyan Axe was created by the Wisconsin letterwinners' organization (the National W Club) and would be instituted as the trophy in the series in 1948. The scores of each game are recorded on the axe's handle, which is 6 feet long. A new axe was created in 2000. The original axe was donated to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003.
Until 2014, when the game ended, if the team holding the trophy won, they would run to their own sideline, take the axe and carry it around the field and "chop down" one or both goal posts. If the team not holding the axe won, they were allowed to run to their opponents' sideline and "steal" the axe. The tradition was changed in 2014, with the Axe now kept off the field until the game is over. This change was in response to a near skirmish in 2013 in which the Minnesota players surrounded their goal post and would not permit the Wisconsin players to ceremonially chop it down. The usual tradition was restored in 2015, with Wisconsin winning again 31–21. 
From 1933 to 1982, it was traditionally the final game of the regular season for both schools. It has resumed being a season finale as of 2014, following the Big Ten's new divisional alignment and schedule for the final weekend of conference play.
Trophy record: Wisconsin, 42–24–3 (.630)
Accomplishments by the two rivals
|Claimed National titles||7||0|
|Unclaimed National titles||0||1|
|Bowl appearances ||19||29|
|Postseason bowl record||7–12||15–14|
|BCS bowl appearances||0||5|
|CFP playoff appearances||0||0|
|CFP NY6 bowl appearances*||0||2|
|Rose Bowl Game appearances||2||9|
|Rose Bowl Game record||1–1||3–6|
|Conference titles||20 (2 IAAN)||14|
|Consensus All-America Players||28||31|
|Heisman Trophy Winners||1||2|
|All-time program record||673–506–42||697–490–53|
|All-time win percentage||.568||.583|
|Minnesota victories||Wisconsin victories||Tie games|
Head to head coaching records between Minnesota and Wisconsin.
|Tom Cochrane Jr.||1||1894||0||1||0||.000|
|John Harrison, William C. Leary||1||1899||0||1||0||.000|
|Henry L. Williams*||21||1900–21||12||7||2||.619|
|William H. Spaulding||3||1922–24||0||1||2||.333|
|Bernie Bierman (a)||10||1932–41||9||1||0||.900|
|Bernie Bierman (b)||6||1945–50||4||2||0||.667|
|P. J. Fleck||1||2017–||0||1||0||.000|
|Parke H. Davis||1||1893||0||1||0||.000|
|Hiram O. Stickney||2||1894–95||1||1||0||.500|
|Philip King (a)||7||1896–1902||5||2||0||.714|
|Philip King (b)||1||1905||1||0||0||1.000|
|Charles P. Hutchins*||1||1906–07||0||0||1||.500|
|Thomas A. Barry||3||1908–10||1||2||0||.333|
|John R. Richards (a)||1||1911||0||0||1||.500|
|John R. Richards (b)||1||1917||1||0||0||1.000|
|John R. Richards (c)||4||1919–22||3||1||0||.750|
|John J. Ryan||2||1923–24||0||0||2||.500|
- No game was played in 1906
Other Wisconsin traveling trophies:
Other Minnesota traveling trophies:
- Floyd of Rosedale (with Iowa)
- $5 Bits of Broken Chair Trophy (with Nebraska)
- Governor's Victory Bell (with Penn State)
- Little Brown Jug (with Michigan)
- "Series History: Wisconsin vs. Minnesota". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved June 5, 2014.
- "Bielema touts history of Wisconsin-Minnesota rivalry - College Football - ESPN". Sports.espn.go.com. 2007-11-12. Retrieved 2014-06-06.
- "Paul Bunyan's Axe - Minnesota vs. Wisconsin - University of Minnesota Official Athletic Site". Gophersports.com. Retrieved 2014-06-06.
- "Wisconsin Badgers Football, Basketball, and Recruiting Front Page". Wisconsin.scout.com. Retrieved 2015-10-10.
- Doherty, Justin (2005). Tales from the Wisconsin Badgers. Sports Publishing. p. 104. ISBN 1582614083. Retrieved July 15, 2013.
- "Precursor to the Axe - UWBadgers.com - The Official Athletic Site of the Wisconsin Badgers". UWBadgers.com. Archived from the original on 2014-06-06. Retrieved 2014-06-06.
- Scott Dochterman. "Traveling trophies woven into Big Ten football fabric (with poll, video)". TheGazette. Retrieved 2014-06-06.
- Doherty, Justin (2005). Tales from the Wisconsin Badgers. Sports Publishing. p. 105. ISBN 1582614083. Retrieved July 15, 2013.
- "Original Axe headed to Hall of Fame". The Badger Herald. 2003-11-19. Retrieved 2014-06-06.
- Fox Sports (2013-11-19). "badgers-gophers-rivalry-gets-boost-as-both-teams-good | FOX Sports on MSN". Foxsportswisconsin.com. Retrieved 2014-06-06.
- Bennett, Brian (2014-05-06). "Big Ten weekend rewind: Week 13 - ESPN". Espn.go.com. Retrieved 2014-06-06.
- "Countdown to end begins for Metrodome". kare11.com. 2013-08-09. Archived from the original on 2013-11-26. Retrieved 2014-06-06.
- "Former Badgers Recall Axe Rivalry - UWBadgers.com - The Official Athletic Site of the Wisconsin Badgers". UWBadgers.com. Archived from the original on 2014-12-05. Retrieved 2014-06-06.
- "Badgers football: Backfield tandem runs wild — and wildcat — over Gophers : Sports". Host.madison.com. 2012-10-20. Retrieved 2014-06-06.
- "Gary Andersen says Paul Bunyans Axe will disappear during Minnesota vs. Wisconsin". The Daily Gopher. 24 November 2014. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
- Journal, Todd D. Milewski | Wisconsin State. "After another Badgers win over Gophers, Axe 'qualifies for a state pension' for tenure in Wisconsin". madison.com. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
- "Minnesota Golden Gophers Index". Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
- "Wisconsin Badgers Index". Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
- "NCAA Football Championship History". NCAA.com. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
- "Minnesota Championships". GopherSports.com. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
- "1942 College Football National Championship". Tiptop25.com. Retrieved 2015-10-10.
- "Andy Baggot: We are — or were — the champions? | Sports". host.madison.com. 2013-01-08. Retrieved 2015-10-10.
- "Minnesota Bowl History". CollegeFootballPoll.com. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
- "Wisconsin Bowl History". CollegeFootballPoll.com. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
- "Divisional Rankings". ESPN.go.com. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
- "Minnesota All-America Selections". Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
- "Wisconsin Badgers All-America Selections". Sports-Reference.com. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
- "Past Heisman Trophy Winners". NationalChamps.net. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Minnesota Golden Gophers–Wisconsin Badgers football rivalry.|