Which Programs do Wisconsin Fans Count as Rivals?

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Kocorowski

Who do you regard as Wisconsin's main rivals? Is there a top five for UW?

Late Wednesday night, a tweet came my way regarding which college programs Badgers fans dislike the most. I left it open to those following on social media that evening, but I also wanted to discuss here on the site.

The first two programs that come to mind instantly are, of course, Minnesota and Iowa. Wisconsin has battled both for years, so the tradition has a history of epic encounters that are still part of college football lore today. Paul Bunyan's Axe and the Heartland Trophy are staples of UW's trophy room, and the three programs have historically overlapped in terms of recruits they target.

Minnesota takes the overall No. 1 seat as the biggest rival, but Iowa is there at No. 2, at least in my opinion.

Who are behind them however? Let's keep looking at football for now. Nebraska and Wisconsin are now in the same division, and there is the Freedom Trophy between the teams since 2014. Recruiting as well could heighten the tensions between the programs based on offers to prospects. However, the Badgers hold an 8-1 mark since 2011 in a lopsided set of battles.

Could Ohio State be in consideration? It can be, but this may be way more one-sided due to the Buckeyes winning the last eight contests between the two programs -- including three Big Ten Championship games against the Badgers since 2014. Overall, OSU holds a 61-18-5 mark over UW. 

Outside of football, let's chat about basketball. Is the "I-94 Rivalry" between Wisconsin and Marquette an actual rivalry to UW fans? Is it more one-sided than others, and does it depend upon the age of fans? Does Kentucky count because of the 2014 Final Four loss and the subsequent payback to an undefeated Wildcats squad the following season? Is the infrequency of the two programs playing make this null and void?

Which other sports show opponents that rise up to this level? Volleyball? Women's and men's hockey? Wrestling? Softball? Track and field?

Could it even be against one player or coach based on previous history?

Leave your comments in the section below and let us know which schools you think 

Comments (2)
No. 1-2

And I know Wisconsin fans like to talk about how Marquette isn't a rival, but it definitely is the biggest hoops one. There are TONS of Badger fans that go to the game in Milwaukee and that atmosphere at the Kohl Center for those games always goes up a notch no matter how good the teams are. You can't say that for any other opponent.


I'd argue for 3 "types" of Rivals:

  1. Blue Blood Rival - usually Michigan or Ohio State. Currently Ohio State. The school at the top of the conference that usually beats you so its a big deal when you win. The home game the student section is full in the 1Q for.

  2. Geographic Rival - always a rival, no matter how good the teams are, its a thing that matters for both sides. This is obviously Minnesota.

  3. Competitive Rival - this is a school that recruits around the same level as Wisconsin so they're going after the same players and roughly as successful. The games are competitive and some back and forth. This rival rotates. Currently its Iowa. Late 90s it was Purdue, 2010/2011 it was Sparty.