With the college football season in full swing, fans are once again treated to a full slate of annual rivalry games, pitting old familiar foes against each other in heated matchups. The winners earn bragging rights for the year and are often awarded some rather interesting hardware.
The strangest of these trophies, in our opinion, fit into four main categories: boots, Paul Bunyan, animals, and food.
The Beehive Boot
This trophy is awarded to the Utah Division I FBS team with the best intrastate record annually. While the trophy has only been handed out since 1971, it is made from a boot that is supposedly more than 100 years old. Unlike other trophies on this list, multiple schools compete for this thing.
The Golden Boot
Created in 1996 when Arkansas joined the SEC, The Golden Boot is awarded to the winner of the Arkansas and LSU rivalry game. This 175-pound, 14-karat gold rendering of the states of Arkansas and Lousiana is likely both the heaviest and the most valuable on the list. LSU has lorded over Arkansas for most of the trophy’s existence, winning 12 of the 20 contests for the Golden Boot.
The Bronze Boot
The Bronze Boot trophy has been awarded every year since 1968 to the winner of the Wyoming and Colorado State rivalry game. The boot was worn by an ROTC instructor during the Vietnam War and the trophy is guarded by the winning school’s ROTC unit for the year.
The Paul Bunyan Trophy
With Michigan State’s entry into the Big Ten as a full-time member in 1953, the Paul Bunyan Trophy was created to recognize and celebrate the school’s rivalry with the University of Michigan. Despite the hype, Michigan essentially neglected the trophy the first two years it won, refusing to engrave its victories and tossing the trophy in a maintenance closet.
Paul Bunyan’s Axe
Paul Bunyan’s Axe became the trophy for the Minnesota–Wisconsin rivalry game in 1948. The annual meeting is the most played rivalry starting in 1890. Unlike the Michigan trophy, this enormous axe lives up to its larger-than-life namesake. This thing is big enough that you could use it to carve up some of the other trophies. The Axe was introduced after the Slab of Bacon trophy went missing (did anyone check the Memphis/UAB game?) and is a much more interactive trophy.
Floyd of Rosedale
This trophy is awarded annually to the winner of the rivalry game between the University of Iowa and the University of Minnesota. As the story goes, in 1935 a bet of a prized hog was made between the two states’ governors. Minnesota won, the Iowa governor delivered Floyd the pig (named after Minnesota’s governor) to the capitol building and a tradition was born.
The trophy for the Illinois and Ohio State rivalry was also originally a live animal. The two schools reportedly chose a turtle to represent the rivalry because of the animal’s longevity. That didn’t quite pan out as the turtle, creatively named by smashing Illini and Buckeyes together, died a year later. These days the teams battle over a wooden turtle, which is probably better for the local turtle population.
This trophy was awarded annually to the winner of the Memphis University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham rivalry game. The rivalry only ran from 1997 to 2012, when Memphis left Conference USA. This might be the most ridiculous (but delicious?) looking trophy in existence. The two schools come from areas proud of their BBQ, and the players hoisted a large, bronze slab of ribs over their heads in celebration.
The Iron Skillet trophy dates back to 1946 and is awarded annually to the winner of the Southern Methodist University and Texas Christian University rivalry game. Legend says the first iron skillet was being used to fry frog legs as a taunt to the TCU Horned Frogs. Given the trophy’s huge size though, perhaps they should call it Paul Bunyan’s Iron Skillet and use it to cook up The Bones trophy to close the trophy loop.