According to the Internet, the Big Ten has the largest amount of official rivalries out of any college conference in the United States. Here is a giant list to prove it. If you don’t feel like counting, there are 16 official (as in, there is some sort of traveling trophy) rivalries within the Big Ten. That doesn’t include the newest Iowa/Penn State rivalry that has popped up over the last few years, and it doesn’t include the potential rivalries that Nebraska will make when joining the Big Ten next year (Iowa probably the biggest, then Ohio State, Wisconsin, Minnesota).
10. Michigan-Minnesota: Little Brown Jug
These two teams meet every year in hopes of stealing the Little Brown Jug, a water jug Michigan brought to Minnesota because they feared the Gophers would poison their water (?). Weird. The game ended in a tie after ravaging fans stormed the field with two minutes left and Michigan went home without their jug. Now every year both teams play for possession of the water jug, which ironically is full of poison. Today, Michigan leads 66-22-3.
9. Indiana-Purdue: Old Oaken Bucket
The Oaken Bucket was hand selected from a well on a farm in southern Indiana to represent the rivalry between the schools. A link is added to the bucket every year with either a P or an I, depending on who wins. The first game after the bucket was implementing in 1925 ended in a 0-0 tie (I guess a bucket isn’t that exciting), resulting with an IP link being the first attached. Today, Purdue leads 56-26-3 (or 70-36-6 all-time)
8. Wisconsin-Iowa: Heartland Trophy
The Heartland Trophy (If you don’t love it, leave it) is relatively new but the rivalry is over 100 years old. Started in 2004, the Heartland Trophy is a bronzed bull because both Iowa and Wisconsin are known for bull fighting. Actually, it’s supposed to symbolize how the games are played out between the two schools (delicious?). Today, Iowa leads 4-2, but narrowly leads the all-time record 42-41-2.
7. Minnesota-Penn State: Governor’s Victory Bell
Created to welcome Penn State into the Big Ten in 1991, the Governor’s Victory Bell paired up Penn State and obvious rival Minnesota. Unfortunately with the addition of Nebraska to the Big Ten next year, Minnesota and Penn State will be split up and the “rivalry” will only be held twice every five years. And I don’t think anyone is going to really care. Penn State-Nebraska would be a better one anyway. Today, Penn State leads 7-4.
6. Illinois-Northwestern: Sweet Sioux Tomahawk/Land of Lincoln Trophy
The Sweet Sioux Tomahawk was brought into play in the 1940s with Illinois beating Northwestern 13-7 in Evanston. The trophy was originally a “cigar store” Indian, but was replaced with a tomahawk, which is less offensive to Native Americans, when it was stolen. After deciding that Sweet Sioux and Chief Illiniwek were both too offensive in 2008, Illinois had to ax them. A new trophy, a stovepipe hat similar to what Illinois Legend Abraham Lincoln would wear debuted in 2009. Today, Northwestern leads the LoL Trophy 1-0 and is the official keeper of Sweet Sioux, despite Illinois leading 33-29-2 at its retirement.
5. Iowa-Minnesota: Floyd of Rosedale
I’ve already talked endlessly about little Floyd on this post, but here’s a refresher: Minnesota decided the two teams should bet their most prized pigs as a trophy one match-up. Minnesota won, so a pig was taken from Rosedale Farms in Iowa and named after Minnesota’s head coach. From then on, a bronzed statue was use to represent Floyd as PETA stepped in and threw fake blood all over for abusing animal rights. Today, Minnesota has a close lead at 39-34-2, with Iowa winning the last 8 out of 10 meetings.
4. Michigan-Michigan State: Paul Bunyan Trophy
nothing says school pride like a snuggie
This trophy got off to quite a rocky start. Despite playing each other every year, Michigan desperately tried to keep Michigan State from joining the Big Ten. No deal. Michigan State joined in the 1950s and the Paul Bunyan trophy was suggested as a rivalry between the two teams. Michigan, being too good for everybody, wanted no part in it, as it might take away from their other trophy, the Little Brown Jug. While MSU displayed the trophy proudly in their fieldhouse, Michigan kept it in the locker room. And never bothered to engrave the years they won it. And even forgot it on the field a few times.
Today, both the Spartans and the Wolverines have no problem accepting this trophy now that Minnesota has become lost in the weeds. Michigan leads the series 34-22-2.
3. Wisconsin-Minnesota: Paul Bunyan’s Ax
The Midwest sure loves Paul Bunyan, even though I’m pretty sure he’s from the mountains out west. Anyway, Paul Bunyan’s ax is the oldest rivalry in football, dating back to 1890. At first they played for a far superior trophy: a slab of bacon. Minnesota led that series 11-3 before it was “lost” in the 1940s and “found” in 1994. The new ax debuted in 1948, and at over 6-ft-tall, it dwarfs me. in 2003 a new trophy was made, as the old one was filled up with engraved scores of previous meetings. Today, Wisconsin leads 36-24-3.
2. Ohio State-Michigan: The Game
There is no trophy between these two teams, despite being labeled as the greatest rivalry in college football history. It is simply referred to as The Game. Even more awesome than its Capitalized Reference, is the fact that it started over a war. The Toledo War, to be exact. You can read all about it here (I’m tired of typing).
Since The Game has no trophy, only squashed dreams, the history of the rivalry can only be described in eras of dominance. The most era being Big Time Timmy Jim Tressel and his army of football monsters. The most recent notable game was in 2006, when both teams were 11-0 and ranked #1 and #2 in the BCS standings. Ohio State won 42-39 and went on to the BCS National Championship.
In 2011, the two teams will be split up in the new Big Ten divisions, but their rivalry will be protected and will be the last game of the season. Today, Michigan leads 57-43-6.
1. Iowa-Purdue: WWIII
Iowa and Purdue have notoriously the most hatred towards each other than any other team. Purdue Hate Week has come to an end this weekend, but it doesn’t mean that the feelings have lifted. It has, if possible, deepened the resentful feelings and came off as some sort of call to war for next years game against Purdue (they weren’t allowed to meet this year due to numerous on-field deaths during the last game).
Luckily, the Big Ten has decided to honor college football’s greatest rivalry protecting it after the conference splits in 2011. Iowa and Purdue will be able to meet every year, meaning that the search for a trophy, one that can accurately depict the fight to be fought for it (for scalping is frowned upon), has started.