It's time. Minnesota vs. Wisconsin for a (slightly relocated) Axe and a trip to the Big Ten championship game.
This rivalry's extra heated now that Minnesota doesn't, well, suck. Moving the Axe to the end zone has also made Gophers fans extra spicy this week. What can you do?
Come watch along with us as the Badgers look continue their decade of dominance over the Gophers.
From Jake Harris' gameday preview:
For Minnesota, there could be no sweeter way to end a 10-year drought in this rivalry than to seal a division championship in the process. For Wisconsin, nothing would sting more than to watch the hated Gophers parade around with the Axe for the first time since 2003, knowing the defeat cost a shot at a conference championship.
The home team is the heavy favorite in this one for good reason. The Badgers are on a tear, having won six straight Big Ten games, the most recent of which were impressive victories over Nebraska and Iowa. Wisconsin has scored at least 26 points in all six of those wins.
Minnesota, meanwhile, has weathered the toughest part of its schedule thus far, going 2-1 in consecutive games against Iowa, Ohio State and Nebraska. The Gophers are confident they can win in tough environments, having emerged victorious from Ann Arbor and Lincoln already this season.
Offensively, Minnesota is similar to Wisconsin in that it does the majority of its damage on the ground and struggles to move the ball through the air. The Gophers average 228.9 rushing yards per game and 134.7 passing yards per game.
Axe Week Shenanigans
UW clarifies Saturday's plans for the Axe
Wisconsin issued a clarification from head coach Gary Andersen in the wake of Monday's mini-controversy about the planned placement of Paul Bunyan's Axe during Saturday's rivalry game vs. Minnesota.
Axe Week Shenanigans
The big question mark, however, is the health of senior running back David Cobb, by far their most productive runner. Cobb is officially listed as questionable with a hamstring injury, but the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Friday he appears unlikely to play after testing the hamstring. Cobb has amassed 1,430 yards (8th in FBS) on 5.3 yards per carry, and he has scored 12 touchdowns for Minnesota in 2014.
If Cobb can't go, the Gophers may be in trouble. Freshman tailback Berkley Edwards is also questionable because of a concussion, but he did practice Wednesday. UM may be relying on Rodrick Williams, Jr., who has carried the ball only 22 times this season. Wisconsin's stingy defense allows just 2.91 yards per rush and 97.1 rushing yards per game, so this is not the group against whom the Gophers want to test new running backs.