For Badgers, It's All About The Axe

MADISON, Wis. - Even with the new divisional format, the Badgers are guaranteed to play the Minnesota Golden Gophers every year. The preservation of the Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe came at the cost of the annual rivalry with Iowa, but the nation's oldest rivalry game endures. The Badgers and the Gophers will play for the 121st time on Saturday, and Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema knows his team has a chance to redeem their road woes.

"Coach Kill's got those guys playing very well," Bielema said. "[It's] a tremendous challenge, but one that I think our kids are excited about, and hopefully have an opportunity to go on the road and play better than we have on our last two opportunities."

And don't expect much animosity between the head coaches, who have known each other for a long time and have stated their mutual admiration for each other in the past. Bielema told reporters earlier in the year that he used to direct high school football players to Kill when he was at Southern Illinois, if they had a passion for football but for one reason or another couldn't play for the Badgers.

That's quite a contrast from the last few years, when there was no love lost between Bielema and former Gopher coach Tim Brewster. Last year's matchup ignited a firestorm after Bielema tried for a two point conversion late in the game, and Brewster confronted him after the game.

But despite the less hostile relationship between the two coaches, this week is still all about keeping Paul Bunyan's Axe in Madison. In fact, Bielema has not been afraid to hit his players where it hurts when it comes to one of the nation's most recognizable trophies. He said a few years back he had the strength coaches dress in Gopher uniforms and run across the field to "steal" the Axe.

"They had never seen the trophy lose before, most of them, and I wanted them to feel what that was going to be like," Bielema said.

Injury Update

-- There's a chance junior defensive end David Gilbert could return to practice this week after breaking his foot, but I wouldn't count on it. Look for Gilbert to play again next week against Illinois.

-- Senior safety Aaron Henry might not make it back to practice on Tuesday after suffering an ankle injury against Purdue, but Bielema expects his captain to return Wednesday and be ready to play against the Gophers.

News and Notes

-- Weekly MVPs: Montee Ball, Chris Borland, and Jared Abbrederis took home the awards after last Saturday's win.

-- Bielema alluded to bringing in a mystery guest speaker for his team this week, but wouldn't give away the surprise. The only hint he gave was that the speaker has played and coached on both sides of the Wisconsin-Minnesota rivalry.

-- The Badgers will take on Illinois on Nov. 19, and the game is set to kick off at 11:00 AM CST. The Badgers' 11th game of the season will air on either ESPN or ESPN2. 

----

Join the Badger conversation on Facebook! Go to our Facebook page and "like" us!

For more Badger Football news, notes and discussion, follow John on Twitter (@JohnVeldhuis).

Latest News

In This Article

Teams
Players
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Bucky's 5th Quarter

You must be a member of Bucky's 5th Quarter to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bucky's 5th Quarter. You should read them.

Join Bucky's 5th Quarter

You must be a member of Bucky's 5th Quarter to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Bucky's 5th Quarter. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker