There will be no battle for "Paul Bunyan's Axe" and more importantly no berth in the Big Ten title game for No. 18 Wisconsin after the Badgers' game against Minnesota on Saturday, Nov. 28, was canceled because the Golden Gophers are dealing with issues related to COVID-19.
Minnesota announced Tuesday it was pausing all team activities because nine student-athletes and six staff members tested positive for COVID-19 in the past five days. There were additional presumptive positive tests Tuesday.
"The health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches and staff has always been our main priority," Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle said in a statement. "We have experienced an increase in positive cases recently and have made the responsible decision to pause team activities. We will continue to rely on the guidance of our medical experts as we navigate the next several days."
The Badgers (2-1, 2-1 Big Ten) still have a home game against Indiana (Dec. 5) and a game at Iowa (Dec. 12) on their schedule but will not reach the minimum six games set last month by the Big Ten as requirement for being eligible for the Big Ten title game.
This will be Wisconsin's third cancellation after it also didn't get to play at Nebraska on Oct. 31 or at home against Purdue on Nov. 7. The Badgers were hoping to bounce back after losing 17-7 at Northwestern last weekend and win "Paul Bunyan's Axe" for a second straight year against the Gophers.
The Gophers (2-3, 2-3) hope to resume their schedule at home against No. 11 Northwestern on Dec. 5.