Battle for axe sharpens UW's focus

All the talk in Madison this week has been about The Axe.

Originally Published: November 4, 2004
By Chris Fowler | ESPN Insider
One of the most underrated rivalries in college football is Minnesota and Wisconsin's annual scrap for the Paul Bunyan Axe. I got a kick out of hearing the players' comments this week. It means a lot to them, winning that big axe.

The Badgers' big, nasty defensive tackle Anttaj Hawthorne just melts when the subject comes up. Carrying the axe "is emotional," he says. "The feeling parading it around is hard to explain."

Perhaps it has something to do with the history lecture Wisconsin offensive line coach Jim Hueber provides early in the week of the Minnesota game each year. This week, it came Monday. Hueber, who previously coached at Minnesota, tells old tales, some of them tall, about the most-played rivalry in I-A … fables about guys who played with cracked skulls just to get a chance to cradle the beloved axe. Amazingly, the players buy in.

Chris Fowler

College Football
Since 1989, Chris Fowler has been ESPN's primary college football and men's college basketball studio host. He's anchored College GameDay, the network's award-winning Saturday morning college football preview show, since 1990.