Hello there MAPpers! This week is maroon and gold week here at MAP as we get pepped up for the Minnesota-Wisconsin game this weekend. In the spirit of this very old competition we want to give you the history of one of the most famous rivalries in college football history.
The rivalry between Minnesota and Wisconsin is a deep one. Being geographically so close, a rivalry is only natural. While we compete in classic clashes from dairy farmers, mining territories, and an age-old NFL duel, perhaps the most famous and longest running in NCAA Division I history is between our very own Golden Gophers and the Wisconsin Badgers.
Currently, Minnesota leads with an overall record of 58-56-8 in games that date all the way back to 1890. Minnesota won the first game by 63 points, thoroughly crushing the Badgers. Despite overtime rules finally being implemented in 1996 to end all collegiate ties, the Gophers and Badgers haven’t had a tie since 1956 in Madison with a score of 13 to 13. This weekend marks the 122nd game of the rivalry and Minnesota looks poised to reclaim Paul Bunyan’s Axe, the famous trophy that has been in use since 1948. The origins of the trophy run fairly deep and are rooted in a lost “Slab of Bacon” amidst World War II fervor.
The original trophy used to denote the victor of the Gopher/Badger game was a carved piece of wood with a relief of a football set in the center with an “M” or “W” depending on which direction the board was turned to denote the most recent winner. It was carved in 1930 by R.B. Fouch of Minneapolis to indicate who literally had brought home the bacon. The trophy was lost in 1943 when the people that were to exchange the trophy were not able to find one-another when fans rushed the field. The story then goes that the trophy was brought to the Minnesota locker room for Gophers coach George Hauser but he felt that the rivalry should be suspended until the end of the war. The trophy was finally rediscovered in 1994 in a storage closet at Camp Randall Stadium in Wisconsin. It’s a mystery how it ended up there but someone had been recording all of the rivalries scores on the back of the slab from 1930 all the way to 1970.
Not being able to find the “Slab of Bacon,” Paul Bunyan’s Axe was created in 1948. It has every score from 1948 to 2003 recorded on the six foot handle. A new one was created for the 2004 season and has been in use ever since. Wisconsin has had it since that 2004 season, but we here at MAP are hoping that those Golden Gophers will bring it back to Minnesota once and for all.
Well that concludes this week’s blog. We would like to thank you very much for hanging out with us this week, please be sure to like us on FaceBook and follow us on Twitter for more fun things and daily updates on what we’re up to down here. If you have any comments or questions for us please be sure to shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to wish Coach Kill and all of the Golden Gophers the best of luck this weekend and remember don’t forget to be awesome! Φ