MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 129-year-old college football rivalry kicks off at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The Minnesota Gophers and Wisconsin Badgers have a lot on the line — and the game will be in the national spotlight.

Gopher fans remember taking the axe back from the Badgers last year. Minnesota is looking to repeat, on home turf, in front of a sellout crowd.

READ MORE: Gophers Aim For Title Game While Badgers Seek To Snatch Axe Back

“This has just been a monumental season,” said University of Minnesota alum Jason Herron.

And this time, for the first time, ahead of the border battle, “ESPN’s College GameDay” is here. Fans had a chance to pose on set on Northrup Mall.

“It might be a once-in-a-lifer, so just sat up there and smiled and maybe it will make the Christmas card,” said assistant women’s basketball coach Danielle O’Banion.

“GameDay” host Rece Davis says the show is happy to deliver the experience.

(credit: Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

“It’s always cool to take the show new places, and when it’s not a novelty,” Davis said. “We’re here because they’re good and they’re playing for something.”

Davis praised P.J. Fleck for his coaching style, and leading his team to this moment.

“I think he’s a terrific coach who practices what he preaches. He understands how to reach players and make them play hard,” Davis said.

Fans are fired up, and they were looking for even more gear on Friday.

“The excitement on campus has been so real,” freshman Abby Buschena said.

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“We’ve made it a big family event, and got great tickets, bought them early!” said mom Deb Buschena.

There’s a lot on the line when the old rivals meet at TCF Bank Stadium.

“Battle for the axe, Big Ten West, Rose Bowl appearance, it’s against Wisconsin. I mean, it doesn’t get bigger than this on Saturday,” Herron said.

Former Gopher Eric Decker will be the celebrity guest picker during the “ESPN College GameDay” broadcast. Tickets are still available on the secondary market.

Jennifer Mayerle

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