Ranking College Football's Unusual Trophies
1. Paul Bunyan’s Axe — Minnesota vs. Wisconsin (since 1948)
It’s fitting that the oldest rivalry in the FBS awards college football’s best trophy to the winner. Not much better than hoisting an axe after a big victory
2. Fremont Cannon — Nevada vs. UNLV (since 1970)
Hard to even call this a trophy... It’s an actual cannon (albeit one that became inoperable in 1999). Tough to argue against that.
3. Floyd of Rosedale — Iowa vs. Minnesota (since 1935)
Iowa and Minnesota used to battle for a live pig each year. The trophy replica is among college football’s best.
4. Golden Hat — Oklahoma vs. Texas (since 1970)
Trophies that double as headwear deserve high praise.
5. Paul Bunyan Trophy — Michigan vs. Michigan State (since 1953)
It’s not the axe, but a statue of Paul Bunyan is pretty impressive in its own right.
6. Golden Boot — Arkansas vs. LSU (since 1996)
Four feet tall, 175 pounds and molded out of 24-karat gold. That pretty much speaks for itself.
7. Stanford Axe — California vs. Stanford (since 1933)
Not an actual axe. But the blade and plaque together make this a classic.
8. Victory Bell — UCLA vs. USC (since 1942)
As far as “Victory Bells” go, this one is the cream of the crop.
9. Old Oaken Bucket — Indiana vs. Purdue (since 1925)
The bucket itself is pretty sweet. So is the chain of I’s and P’s that represent the winners of Purdue-Indiana over the years.
10. Golden Egg — Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss (since 1927)
The timeless trophy presented to the best team in the state of Mississippi. In college football, that’s a pretty big deal.
11. Foy-ODK Sportsmanship Trophy — Alabama vs. Auburn (since 1948)
A game as big as the Iron Bowl deserves a legitimate trophy. This one doesn’t disappoint.
12. Jeweled Shillelagh — Notre Dame vs. USC (since 1952)
This is some cool (and expensive) hardware for the winner of USC-Notre Dame to take home.
13. Little Brown Jug — Michigan vs. Minnesota (since 1903)
The Jug isn’t even that “little.” Michigan-Minnesota has been a one-sided affair over the years, but this trophy remains a college football trademark.
14. Commander in Chief’s Trophy — Air Force vs. Army vs. Navy (since 1972)
The best Armed Forces school gets an impressive prize.
15. Territorial Cup — Arizona vs. Arizona State (since 2001)
The original cup so illustrious that the schools created a replica to hand out after every game. The replica isn’t too shabby, either.
16. Illibuck — Illinois vs. Ohio State (since 1925)
Delightfully quirky and oddly charming.
17. Magnolia Bowl Trophy — LSU vs. Ole Miss (since 2008)
Solid all around.
18. Legends Trophy — Notre Dame vs. Stanford (since 1989)
Stanford-Notre Dame is a college football staple. This trophy lives up to the rivalry.
19. Wagon Wheel — BYU vs. Utah State (since 1948)
Regionally appropriate? Yes. Awesome? Also yes.
20. Wagon Wheel — Akron vs. Kent State (since 1946)
Like the endless debate between the Old Crow Medicine Show or Darius Rucker song, it’s tough to call whether this trophy (the original) or the BYU-Utah State version is better. In both cases, I’ll take the newer one.
21. Keg of Nails — Cincinnati vs. Louisville (since 1929)
Probably one of the more underrated trophies in college football. Unsure when we’ll see it again, though, as the Cincinnati-Louisville rivalry remains on hiatus.
22. Chancellor’s Spurs — Texas vs. Texas Tech (since 1996)
A pretty sweet prize for the Texas-Texas Tech winner.
23. Cy-Hawk Trophy — Iowa vs. Iowa State (since 2012)
Great trophy (and name) for a great rivalry.
24. Bronze Boot — Colorado vs. Wyoming (since 1968)
One of college football’s cooler, lesser-known trophies.
25. Paniolo Trophy — Hawai’i vs. Wyoming (since 2012)
“Paniolo” is Hawaiian for “Cowboy.” Cool and appropriate for the winner of Wyoming-Hawai’i.
26. The Belt — South Alabama vs. Troy (since 2016)
It’s hard not to get pumped up about winning a championship belt. Cue the Aaron Rodgers touchdown celebration.
27. Heartland Trophy — Iowa vs. Wisconsin (since 2004)
The rivalry is over 100 years old, but the trophy has only been around since 2004. Solid, but not entirely satisfying.
28. Victory Bell — Cincinnati vs. Miami (OH) (since 1890s)
The rivalry is storied, but recently one-sided: Miami hasn’t beaten Cincinnati in over a decade. The trophy still hasn’t lost its luster, though.
29. Commonwealth Cup — Virginia vs. Virginia Tech (since 1996)
Pretty cool. Though it feels like Virginia-Virginia Tech deserves a little bit better.
30. Bridger Rifle — Utah State vs. Wyoming (since 2013)
For some, winning an actual rifle and waving it around after a big victory seems awesome. For others, it’s unsettling. The Rifle is a relatively new trophy, so time will tell whether it becomes illustrious or incendiary.
31. Megaphone Trophy — Michigan State vs. Notre Dame (since 1949)
Not quite a classic, but still stately and unique.
32. Old Brass Spittoon — Indiana vs. Michigan State (since 1950)
The Spittoon is fun and interesting. That being said, a trophy based on something that you spit into can only be regarded so highly.
33. Jefferson-Eppes Trophy — Florida State vs. Virginia (since 1996)
It’s a regal-looking trophy, but the one-sided and infrequent nature of the Virginia-Florida State rivalry knocks this one down a few spots.
34. Victory Bell — Duke vs. North Carolina (since 1948)
After some debate, Duke and North Carolina decided to keep the tradition of having the winning team spray paint the trophy’s platform. That’s a good call.
35. Old Oil Can — Fresno State vs. San Diego State (since 2011)
The Old Oil Can dates all the way back to… 2011. That being said, this is one of college football’s best new trophies.
36. Dakota Marker — North Dakota State vs. South Dakota State (since 2004)
Simple and representative of the monuments that marked the border between the Dakotas when the territory was split. Sometimes, less is more.
37. Heroes Trophy — Iowa vs. Nebraska (since 2011)
This one fits the budding Iowa-Nebraska rivalry pretty well.
38. O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy — Boston College vs. Clemson (since 2008)
Angry leather helmet-era football players make for solid trophies, apparently.
39. Black Diamond Trophy — Virginia Tech vs. West Virginia (since 1997)
Virginia Tech and West Virginia will renew their rivalry in 2017 after a 12-year hiatus. It’ll be nice to see this trophy make a comeback.
40. Ram-Falcon Trophy — Air Force vs. Colorado State (since 1980)
Unsure if the glass case adds to the trophy or takes away from it. Either way, this one is solidly middle tier.
41. Bedlam Bell — Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State (since 2000)
The name is great. The rivalry is good. The trophy is… alright.
42. James Bonham Trophy — South Carolina vs. Texas A&M (since 2014)
Texas A&M and South Carolina’s new rivalry needed a trophy to go along with it. All things considered, this was a good choice.
43. Ireland Trophy/Frank Leahy Memorial Bowl — Boston College vs. Notre Dame (since 1975)
The worst of the best? Or maybe the best of the worst?
44. Battle Line Trophy — Arkansas vs. Missouri (since 2015)
The states stacked on top of one another makes this trophy almost Golden Boot-esque. Nice, but nothing special.
45. Governor’s Cup — Kentucky vs. Louisville (since 1994)
Bigger, but not necessarily better than other comparable trophies.
46. Land Grant Trophy — Michigan State vs. Penn State (since 1993)
Visually, there’s a lot going on here. Probably a little too much.
47. Purdue Cannon — Illinois vs. Purdue (since 1943)
This trophy sounds awesome, right? And it is, until you realize it’s smaller than a football.
48. Silver Spade — New Mexico State vs. UTEP (since 1955)
It’s a cool-looking shovel. At the end of the day, though, it’s still just a shovel.
49. Apple Cup — Washington vs. Washington State (since 1962)
Washington and Washington State sit atop the Pac-12 for the first time in a while, but this trophy is still lower-middle tier at best. How do you like them apples?
50. Iron Skillet — SMU vs. TCU (since 1950s)
Unsure whether winning something that you cook breakfast on is unique and charming or just kind of lame. Leaning toward the latter.
51. Shillelagh Trophy — Notre Dame vs. Purdue (since 1957)
This one just leaves you wanting a bit more.
52. Milk Can — Boise State vs. Fresno State (since 2006)
Nothing to write home about.
53. Crab Bowl Trophy — Maryland vs. Navy (since 2010)
It’s certainly unique, but not all that interesting. This seems more like a trophy that would be handed out at a hypothetical Joe’s Crab Shack Bowl.
54. Bayou Bucket — Houston vs. Rice (since 1974)
Definitely not the Old Oaken Bucket.
55. Governor’s Victory Bell — Minnesota vs. Penn State (since 1993)
Seems to lack the same grandeur that the other “Victory Bells” have. The same can be said for the rivalry, too.
56. Don Shula Award — Florida Atlantic vs. Florida International (since 2002)
If only this trophy matched the Coach Shula’s greatness. If it embodied any Dolphins head coach, it would be Tony Sparano.
57. Victory Cannon Trophy — Central Michigan vs. Western Michigan (since 2008)
For something as cool sounding as “The Victory Cannon,” this one is pretty dull.
58. Land of Lincoln Trophy — Illinois vs. Northwestern (since 2009)
A mediocre trophy fit for a mediocre rivalry.
59. Textile Bowl — Clemson vs. NC State (since 1981)
60. The Bell — Marshall vs. Ohio (since 1997)
You’d think with a title like “The Bell,” this would be a little more storied or impressive.
61. Bronze Stalk Trophy — Ball State vs. Northern Illinois (since 2008)
Does the winning team actually want to take this home?
62. $5 bits of Broken Chair Trophy — Minnesota vs. Nebraska (since 2014)
Props to the @FauxPelini twitter account for basically starting this trophy. That’s the only cool thing about it, though.
63. Battle of I-75 Trophy — Bowling Green vs. Toledo (since 2011)
You know what really gets players and fans hyped for a big rivalry game? A 20-mile stretch of Interstate in Northwest Ohio.
64. Kuter Trophy — Air Force vs. Hawai'i (since 1980)
Looks like a candy dish you'd find in your grandparents' house.