NFL.com set out recently to rank the top 15 college football trophies – and apparently we in the Midwest are pretty creative, because six of the trophies that made the list are fought over by Midwest schools.
The site makes it clear that this list is not the best rivalry games, but the best rivalry trophies, noting that "there really are not that many interesting trophies" associated with rivalry games.
NFL.com says the best of the trophies are "unique – even weird."
The top three on the list are all trophy games involving the Gophers and some of their fiercest Big Ten rivals:
1. Floyd of Rosedale – Minnesota vs. Iowa: "Floyd is a bronze pig and, really, how can that not be the No. 1 trophy in college football?" NFL.com said in explaining its choice.
2. Paul Bunyan's Axe – Minnesota vs. Wisconsin:"This series dates back to 1890, and the axe has been presented to the winner since 1948. Before the Axe, the trophy was the 'Slab of Bacon,' a piece of wood with an M/W carved on it, depending on which way it was held."
3. Little Brown Jug – Minnesota vs. Michigan: The Little Brown Jug is just that – a relatively small earthenware jug painted brown which has been around since 1903. The jug apparently was used at one time by the Michigan team.
NFL.com takes note of Minnesota's involvement in the top three trophies even though the program "hasn't really been all that relevant for the past 50 or so years."
No. 4, while it doesn't involve Minnesota, is another Big Ten contest. It's the Old Oaken Bucket, between Indiana and Purdue. It's been used as the rivalry trophy since 1925, and legend has it that the bucket was used in Indiana during the Civil War.
The Illibuck, the trophy between Illinois and Ohio State, is on the list as well at No. 11.
The Big Ten has six of the 15 trophies, exactly 40 percent of the list, notes the Big Ten Network.
And one trophy from a Division III rivalry in Minnesota made the list as well at No. 5 – primarily because it's so ugly. It's The Troll, which is the prize in the annual meeting between St. Olaf College and Concordia College in Moorhead.
Interestingly, there is virtually no crossover from the best trophy list to NFL.com's list of the top 15 rivalry games.
And only one Big Ten rivalry game made it into the top 15: Michigan vs. Ohio State, which is ranked No. 2. The No. 1 college football rivalry in the country is Auburn vs. Alabama.