Paul Bunyon's Axe Rivalry
Since 1890, the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers and the University of Wisconsin Badgers have battled it out to see who could “bring home the bacon.” This showdown of Big Ten rivals existed for roughly 40 years without a nickname, but the introduction of the Slab of Bacon trophy changed that. From 1930 to 1943, the Gophers and Badgers competed for a wooden trophy with the word “bacon” carved on both ends and a centered letter that can be an “M” or a “W” depending on how the trophy is displayed. Along with its delicious nickname, the Minnesota-Wisconsin rivalry has the distinction of being the oldest and longest played series in NCAA Division I football. The game has taken place every year except 1906, when President Teddy Roosevelt suspended college football rivalries for concerns over player safety.

Unfortunately, the Slab of Bacon trophy was mysteriously lost after 1943, and the rivalry suspended a trophy tradition during the remaining years of World War II. In 1948, a new trophy was introduced, and now Minnesota and Wisconsin fight for ownership of Paul Bunyon’s Axe. The six-foot long axe features the scores of past games printed on either side and is kept in the winner’s possession after each annual game. Although the Slab of Bacon trophy was thought to be lost for over 50 years, it was rediscovered in 1994 in a storage room and is currently on display in Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium.

Minnesota maintains a slight lead in the rivalry, but Wisconsin is quickly gaining ground. The Badgers have owned an impressive streak in the annual series since 2004.