The Wisconsin Badgers and the Minnesota Golden Gophers are playing for Paul Bunyan’s Axe Saturday afternoon after the game was originally cancelled back in November due to COVID-19 concerns for Minnesota. It is one of the few pieces of good news that we’ve received in 2020 and we are excited to watch FBS’ most played rivalry.
There's always something special about this game.— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) December 18, 2020
What's your favorite Axe Game memory? pic.twitter.com/fBTGBFMO7h
Wisconsin’s offense will be looking to get back on track against an average Minnesota defense while the Gophers RB Mohamed Ibrahim (the Big Ten’s running back of the year) will try and find some running room against the best defense in the nation.
How to watch/listen
TV: BTN, 3:00 p.m. CT, Mark Followill, Matt Millen, Rick Pizzo
Streaming: FOX Sports
Radio: Badger Sports Network (iHeartRadio), Satellite: Sirius 106 or XM 207, Matt Lepay, Mike Lucas, Mark Tauscher, Patrick Herb
Stadium: Camp Randall Stadium
Weather: Madison, Wisconsin (cloudy)
Line: Wisconsin -12.5
Fun facts (according to the media guides)
- Wisconsin and Minnesota will meet for the 130th time, extending the most-played rivalry in the FBS. Only two other FBS rivalries have been contested at least 125 times: North Carolina vs. Virginia (125) and Auburn vs. Georgia (125).
- Dating to the 2010 season, Wisconsin has won 22 of its last 25 games with a traveling trophy on the line vs. Iowa (Heartland Trophy), Minnesota (Paul Bunyan’s Axe) and Nebraska (Freedom Trophy).
- Wisconsin owns a 61-60-8 lead in the all-time series with Minnesota, just the second time UW has held a lead in the history of the FBS’ most-played rivalry (the Badgers took their first-ever lead, at 60-59-8, following their 2017 win over Minnesota).
- Since the introduction of Paul Bunyan’s Axe in 1948, Wisconsin leads the series, 44-25-3
- The Badgers have won 22 of their last 25 meetings with the Gophers, dating to 1995.
- Dec. 19 matches the latest date on which Wisconsin has played a regular-season game and will mark the latest home game in program history. UW also played on Dec. 19 when it faced Carlisle Indian School at Chicago Coliseum to close the 1896 season.
- Minnesota is 9-2 in its last 11 games away from home.
- The Badgers lead the nation in total defense, giving up just 251.0 yards per game. That mark would represent the best yards-allowed average by a UW defense since the 1950s.
- Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard started at safety, recorded nine tackles and an interception, and returned punts when the Badgers defeated Northern Illinois, 24-21, on Sept. 14, 2002, at Camp Randall Stadium. Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck served as the Huskies’ punt returner in the game, recording six, cowardly, fair catches.
- Current UW head coach Paul Chryst won just one game during his senior season at Wisconsin in 1988, a 14-7 victory over Minnesota.
- Wisconsin redshirt freshman QB Graham Mertz’s father, Ron, played football as offensive lineman at Minnesota from 1989-92.