Things are looking pretty good for the Wisconsin Badgers football team, currently situated at No. 5 in the playoff ranking and with the No. 2 Miami Hurricanes having lost on Friday to unranked and formerly-coached-by-Paul-Chryst Pittsburgh.
But there are still a few obstacles on the road to the national championship. First among those are the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers, who may not be ranked nationally but of course neither was Pitt. On paper, however, this looks to be an easy win for Wisconsin. (knocks furiously on all wood in area)
Before the game kicks off in Minneapolis, get to know our neighbors to the west.
The Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe
Minnesota is Wisconsin’s oldest rival in the Big Ten, and the two schools make up the longest continuous rivalry in college football. Each year, the Badgers and Gophers football men battle it out for “Paul Bunyan’s Axe.” Created by The National W Club, the Axe has been a tradition since 1948. The winner keeps it at their respective campus until the other team claims it back; with 42 wins to the Gophers’ 24, the Axe has spent more time in Madison than Minneapolis.
Also, fun fact: The original trophy wasn’t an axe at all, but rather the “Slab of Bacon.” It went missing in 1943 after Minnesota coach George Hauser refused it out of respect for the Allied troops in World War II. No, for real. In 1994, the Slab was found in an old Camp Randall Stadium storage closet by a Wisconsin intern.
Take that, Al Gore!
In 1992, the internet was still in its infancy. The WWW as we know it didn’t yet exist, but researchers at the University of Minnesota were aiming to change that. At a conference with other computer programmers, including Dr. Tim Berners-Lee, the pioneer who debuted his “World Wide Web” concept at the same meeting (like that would ever stick), Mark McCahill and Farhad Anklesaria demonstrated their “Internet Gopher” software, which was used to retrieve hyperlinks from around the world (like Google, but without the weird cult-y vibe). It was massively popular until Berners-Lee first showed the World Wide Web to the public… using Gopher.
**I move away from the mic to breathe in
In 2007, U of M grad student Adam Nyerere Bahner became an overnight star thanks to an undeniably earwormy song that took the internet by storm as one of the first true “viral videos.” You’ll know Bahner by his pseudonym Tay Zonday, and all I have to do is type “chocolate rain” and his startlingly deep voice is already playing in your head. The song turned 10 this year, and the past decade has seen Zonday perform it on countless late night shows and even rework it into a Dr. Pepper commercial. Zonday never followed up with another one, but the bizarre and lasting legacy of “Chocolate Rain” makes Tay Zonday the most important musician to ever call oneself a Golden Gopher. And yes, I am including Bob Dylan.