Nov 19, 2022; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Wisconsin Badgers interim head coach Jim Leonhard reacts to a play during the fourth quarter against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Football: 3 Reasons beating Minnesota is SO important

Madison, Wis. – Well, ladies and gents, it’s been a roller-coaster season for Wisconsin football thus far, but it’s finally Axe week. 

Interim head coach Jim Leonhard and the Wisconsin Badgers (6-5, 4-4 Big Ten), who are looking to reclaim Paul Bunyan’s Axe, play host to the Minnesota Golden Gophers (7-4, 4-4 Big Ten) at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday afternoon. 

Here’s a look at three reasons beating the Minnesota Gophers is so damn important…

Wisconsin football vs. Minnesota is CFB’s longest-running rivalry game

Every season, Badger fans circle the Minnesota Gophers game on the schedule regardless of circumstance. The Border Battle began back in 1890, and they have played in all but one year since, with the Badgers currently holding a 62-61-8 all-time series advantage.

Tradition matters in college athletics, and you’d be hard-pressed to find many rivalries as cherished as this one. 

Minnesota currently has Paul Bunyan’s Axe

It absolutely pained me to type out that last sentence. PJ Fleck should never, and I mean NEVER, be in possession of Paul Bunyan’s Axe.

Since the trophy was created, Wisconsin has compiled a 45-26-3 record in the Border Battle and even held it for 14 straight seasons between 2004-2017.

After last season’s 23-13 defeat at the hands of the Gophers, UW is out for revenge, and despite the disappointing season the Badgers have had, all will be right in the world if the Axe returns to its rightful home in Madison.

The Jim Leonhard situation

Oct 22, 2022; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Wisconsin Badgers head coach Jim Leonhard reacts to a call during the fourth quarter against the Purdue Boilermakers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

After last weekend’s fourth-quarter comeback against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, University of Wisconsin brass had officially seen enough.

Several hours after the game, UW posted the Wisconsin football head coaching job – which legally needs to be up for seven days before naming Paul Chryst’s successor (spoiler alert: it’s Jim Leonhard, and it always has been).

Everyone knows Wisconsin AD Chris McIntosh will remove coach Leonhard’s interim tag sometime this weekend. However, there is no arguing that naming him the program’s head coach will be SO much sweeter coming off a victory over Minnesota in the regular season finale.


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