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Big Ten Roundtable: Illustrating The Rivalries

Thanks to Gopher Nation for the questions.

1. ESPN's Adam Rittenberg recently ranked the top 5 rivalries in the Big Ten and there were some controversial results (Illinois v Ohio State as #3?). Clearly Ohio State vs. Michigan is the #1 rivalry in the Big Ten, but give me your next three. Your school does not have to be included in this list, but regardless of who you choose defend your picks.

It's common knowledge that, by default, Penn State does not actually have any rivals in the Big Ten. Never mind that several of our games rank in the Top 5 in TV ratings, our 'rivalry' game is Michigan State, and because that is one of the worst rivalries in sports, the rest of our games are clearly meaningless.

So with that in mind, I'm ranking this thing the only way I know how: by coolest trophy.

1. Slab of Bacon - Minnesota v Wisconsin - This, the coolest of Big Ten trophies was somehow lost in the '40s, soon to be replaced by Paul Bunyan's Axe in 1948.

From what I've gathered, the original trophy looked something like this:


After it rotted in the Wisconsin clubhouse during 1930, a more stable replacement was needed:


2. Sweet Sioux Tomahawk - Northwestern v Illinois - Not even sure what this means to be honest, and what makes a tomahawk sweet?  Anyway, points for creativity and inclusion of Northwestern.

Update: So here is the story.

The student newspapers at Northwestern and Illinois birthed the idea of the two football teams playing for a wooden Indian trophy in 1945. The name of the trophy was "Sweet Sioux." The following year, the trophy was stolen from a showcase at Northwestern. So, in 1947, a tomahawk was instituted as the traveling trophy. Incidentally, Sweet Sioux was found in 1948 but because of its size, it was discarded and the teams continue to play for the tomahawk to this day.

3. Land Grant Trophy - Penn State v Michigan State - Ok, I'm not actually serious but Penn State was making this list somehow and it certainly wasn't going to be because of the Governor's Victory Bell.  Update for you all, via Wikipedia of course: the rivalry was actually started over a stamp.


But this wouldn't be a post without a picture of the trophy, a true engineering marvel.


2. Obviously winning every game is important and beating really good teams sends a stronger message than beating Minnesota. Assume every team is .500 this year and the outcome of your next two games means nothing outside of pride and a year's worth of bragging rights. Give me the two schools you would want to beat (in order) and why. What makes beating School's A and B significant?

Michigan, of course, because of the streak. Other than that, ummmm, Indiana, because...of the streak. Ya, Indiana.

3. Take the two teams from above that you claim are your biggest rivals and give me a new mascot for them.

Michigan is easy.


 As for Indiana, I had to go a little further in the archives.


4. There are some new rules in college football this year. My favorite is the Big Ten experimental rule which states that after every win this year you get to pluck one player off their roster and bring them back to your campus. Looking at your schedule give me two players you would pluck (assuming a win), why you would take them and what would you do with them?

Well there is one gaping hole I'm worried about on the PSU roster and that is the corner position. When I look around the Big Ten, I don't see any major upgrades at any other spot (conditional, of course, on Clark/Devlin being able to perform at an average level). So with that being said, I'm taking Jenkins from OSU and Davis from Illinois.

5. Brian at MGO was kind enough to post a diary entry which gives us and new coach Rich Rodriguez a list of Michigan traditions that maybe we were not all aware of. This has inspired two final questions...

5A - are there any Michigan traditions that he missed? (here is your chance for some Michigan cheap shots)

This is easy: consistently being the most over-rated team in football.

5B - Are there any traditions of your school's rival that we should all be aware of?

 Just one.