It's the most played rivalry in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Since 1890, Wisconsin and Minnesota have been dueling it out on the gridiron. The history of the rivalry runs deep within each of the programs and the fans that follow them.
The Gophers hold a 59-54-8 record in the all-time series. While the long stemming affair has taken place for over a century, the history of the prizes is relatively short.
In 1930, a Doctor by the name of R.B. Fouch created the "Slab of Bacon" a piece of black walnut wood that had a logo engraved on it that could look like an "M" or a "W" depending on which way it was displayed. This prize was awarded to the winner of the annual meeting for the next 14 seasons. The Gophers were 11-3 in that time span.
Minnesota won the slab in 1943 by virtue of its 25-14 win over the Badgers in Minneapolis. However, then-Gophers head coach, Dr. George Hauser declined the trophy citing the trivial meaning of the game in the relation to the events taking place in World War II. The trophy then vanished only to be discovered in an athletic storage room during the 1994 renovation of Camp Randall Stadium. Every score from 1930-1970 had been placed on the back of the slab which is now displayed in the Wisconsin football office.
In 1948, the National W Club, the Wisconsin letter-winners organization, created Paul Bunyan's Axe, and began awarding it to the winner of the event. The axe is still the defining symbol of the rivalry to this day. The original axe, which was retired in 2003, had a side that was painted in each school's color with the team's logo. The results were recorded on its six-foot handle. The new axe, which was made in the likeness of the original trophy, was instituted in 2004.
Wisconsin is 37-24-3 against the Gophers in the "Axe Era." Since 1990 the Badgers are 17-5 against their arch-rival and have held the axe for the last eight seasons, the longest streak by any one team since the inception of the prize in 1948.
What makes this annual contest truly special is that both teams genuinely believe they have a shot to win every season. Regardless of records, the two teams have a history of bringing out the best in one another. Nearly half the 61 games that have not ended in a tie have been decided by a touchdown or less.
This rivalry is one of the healthiest in all of college athletics. Its competitiveness and tradition makes it a sight to be taken in by any true college sports fan.