Storied rivalries and their trophies are vital to the pageantry that makes college football so riveting (and so much more fun than the insipid pro ranks). The Big Ten is especially rivalry-rich, with iconic, outlandish trophies like the Little Brown Jug, the Old Brass Spittoon, and Paul Bunyan’s Axe. But there are a number of other rivalries and trophies that only the B1Ggest fans are familiar with. These are the Big Ten’s lesser-known rivalry trophies:
The BoilerHawk Orphan
Iowa v. Purdue
The saga of one the nation’s cruelest rivalry trophy began in Iowa City in 2002, during a tight Purdue-Iowa game. During the third quarter, Kinnick Stadium security discovered a newborn child near the Purdue sideline, swaddled in an Iowa blanket. Officials stopped the game and a search for the boy’s parents was held, to no avail. Annoyed with the delay, Kirk Ferentz approached then-Purdue coach Joe Tiller and said: “They found the kid on your sideline, he’s your responsibility.” Tiller replied: “No dice, Kirk. The baby’s in an Iowa blanket and it’s your stadium. It’s your problem.”
After consulting with both athletic directors, a compromise was struck: whoever lost had to deal with the baby. Purdue fell 31-28 and was forced to bring the orphan boy back to West Lafayette, where he was tended to by graduate assistants. The next year, Purdue beat Iowa and foisted the child back on the Hawkeyes. Ever since, the loser of the game has been forced to house and feed the orphan, at great expense to the athletic department.
The kid is 15 now and beyond fucked up, which gives Purdue and Iowa even more incentive to win this game and not have to deal with him. When the poor bastard turns 18, he’ll be released into society and become the government’s problem. Then, an Iowa grad and a Purdue grad will mate and birth a new BoilerHawk baby who will continue to fuel one of the most unconventional rivalries in all of sports.
Scarlet Terp, LLC
Maryland v. Rutgers
The only thing standing between Maryland and New Jersey is a worthless sliver of land known as “Delaware,” which is an old Lenape Indian word for “corporate tax shelter.” Thanks to Delaware’s lack of civilization and attendant lawlessness, hundreds of thousands of shell companies are incorporated there in the village of Wilmington, including Scarlet Terp, LLC, formed in 2013 by Maryland and Rutgers.
Whichever team wins their annual matchup assumes full control of Scarlet Terp, LLC and is able to hide and move assets and do all kinds of other shady shit without the NCAA or government being the wiser. The losing school is forced to comply with all relevant state and federal laws.
Jim Delany’s Carpet Bag
Any Big Ten team v. North Carolina
Big Ten dictator Jim Delany grew up on the east coast, went to North Carolina, and has no historical Big Ten or midwestern ties. He’s a no good, rotten carpetbagger. So whenever a Big Ten team faces the Tar Heels, they play for the literal carpet bag Jim Delany dragged up north in the late 80s, when he began his reign of error. North Carolina currently possesses the Carpet Bag, having defeated Illinois last season.
The Old Oaken E-Cigarette Cartridge
Rutgers v. Penn State
While the laws surrounding e-cigarettes were at their most lenient, Penn State and Rutgers battled for this smooth, great-tasting trophy, with the Lions bringing home the cartridge to puff on in all three tilts. But after surgeon general Vivek H. Murthy released a vapid report condemning e-cigarettes, the cartridge was placed in an old cigar box in the bowels of Beaver Stadium, where it currently awaits decriminalization.
The Big Brown Box of Unwatched Recruiting Tapes
Minnesota v. North Dakota State
Over the last decade, Minnesota has ruinously not recruited several standout Minnesota high school players who wanted to be Gophers but went on to be superstars at FCS powerhouse North Dakota State instead. Even worse, Minnesota was dumb enough to schedule the Bison, and the massive chips on their shoulders, three times. The Gophers narrowly averted disaster in 2006 in a 10-9 home win. Then they played the Bison in the Metrodome again in 2007. B1G mistake.
Before the 2007 game, North Dakota State’s many Minnesotans got pumped up by throwing their high school recruiting highlight tapes–that Minnesota never bothered to watch–in a big brown cardboard box and dubbed it a rivalry trophy. They kept it on the sideline for motivation, and when they took down their FBS neighbors 27-21, the players doused their coach in VHS tapes instead of Gatorade.
When Minnesota was stupid enough to schedule the Bison again, in 2011, the North Dakota State players performed the same ritual and clobbered the Gophers in Minneapolis, 37-24. No one considered it an upset. Minnesota still refuses to acknowledge the existence of this rivalry, the box of tapes, and the state of North Dakota, but that doesn’t change the fact that North Dakota State owns Minnesota and will for a long time, because the Gophers finally woke up and stopped playing them.
The Copper Pasty
Wisconsin v. Michigan State
Before ships and planes were invented in the 1930s, Wisconsin and Michigan State had to travel by horse and stagecoach, across the Upper Peninsula, to play one another. Too many lineman were dying on the arduous journey every year, so in 1911, the schools started meeting in the middle and playing games in the UP. This delighted the local immigrants; the wives industriously fed both squads a bounty of pasties, that savory meat and vegetable pastry on which the UP runs, while the men, mostly miners, fashioned a large pasty out of copper and presented it to the winner. It’s gone back and forth ever since. As of press time, the UP still belongs to Michigan.
The Blocked M
Michigan v. Appalachian State
When disgraced Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon scheduled a second game against Appalachian State in 2014, he saw irresistible revenue and branding opportunities in a new rivalry trophy. After focusgrouping concepts, he unveiled a big steel block M engraved with Appalachian State’s game-winning 2007 field goal block in four scenes, one in each corner. Michigan took the game and trophy in 2014 in what has to be the least satisfying win in program history. The trophy now sits in Brandon’s garage, perhaps to be used as a headstone one day?