It’s the longest running rivalry in all of NCAA football.
Dating back to 1890, this Saturdays game will be the Wisconsin Badgers 123rd with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, who currently lead the series, 58-56-8.
The winner of this border battle gets to take home the Paul Bunyan Axe and will have the axe displayed on their campus until the two teams meet again.
The axe itself has a six-foot long handle. On it, the previous match-up results engraved for all to remember. The battle heirloom won this weekend isn’t the historic one. The original axe had to be retired in 2003 and the new axe with the longer handle was introduced during the 2004 season.
However, many Badgers and Golden Gophers fans did not know that the two teams played for a much different trophy before the famous axe was introduced. They used to play for “The Slab of Bacon.”
The Slab of Bacon was created in 1930 by a man named R.B. Fouch who lived in Minneapolis. Fouch made the trophy out of black walnut wood and in the center carved out an “M” or a “W” (depending on which way the trophy was hung). The “M” and the “W” represented whoever was victorious that season and the slab would be hung according to the correct letter. The idea behind the trophy was that which ever team won that year, would be “Bringing Home the Bacon.”
The “Slab of Bacon” was lost in the midst of World War II and was later found 51 years later in a storage room at the University of Wisconsin. The slab is currently being displayed at Camp Randall Stadium in their football offices.
Wisconsin has won every meeting with Minnesota dating all the way back to 2004. Minnesota, however, is waiting across the St. Croix River with an 8-2 record of their own and they are currently ranked second in the Legends Division in the Big Ten.
Expect to see a hard fought, classic rivalry contest Saturday afternoon. Hopefully for Badger Nation, we will see Paul Bunyan’s axe remain on our sideline once again this year.