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Posted on Thu, Oct 20, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Bret Bielema wants a trophy for Michigan State-Wisconsin. OK, Bret. You got it ...

By Nick Baumgardner


Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema, right, congratulates Montee Ball after a touchdown during a 59-7 win against Indiana last week. Bielema thinks this week's Wisconsin-Michigan State game merits a trophy.

AP Photo

There's little doubt the Big Ten spotlight falls on East Lansing this week as No. 15 Michigan State prepares to host No. 4 Wisconsin for a nationally televised primetime showdown.

Clearly, a big game. The winner takes the catbird seat for the conference's stretch run.

But Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema wants more. He sees this as a rivalry contest, and one that should come with all the necessary trimmings.

"I was kind of disappointed that we don't have a trophy with it," he said of the Wisconsin-MSU game. "I think it's merited and it's really gotten to that status."

You want it, Bret? You've got it.

There are plenty of already established trophy games in the Big Ten. Here's a semi-humorous, semi-serious look at a few would-be trophy tilts.

Wisconsin-Michigan State

Both schools already play in a few notable trophy games, and the winner this week could very well be on its way to claiming the first ever Stagg-Paterno Championship Trophy.

The games on the field have been competitive over the past few years, no doubt. But that's not what makes a trophy.

Trophies are made by atmosphere, history and surroundings.

And since Madison and East Lansing are both tremendous tailgating environments …

Suggestion: The Battle for The Old Rolling Cooler


Nebraska and Iowa have already given this game a name, calling it "The Heroes Game."

There hasn't been a specific trophy assigned to the game just yet, though one could be announced prior to this season's Nov. 25 matchup.

Heroes is nice, but there's no way, no how, this trophy gets invented without reference to the amount of farm machinery churning hard near both campuses. ...

Suggestion: The Battle for The Old Rototiller

Penn State-Northwestern

There haven't seen too many rowdy meetings in this series, but that really doesn't prohibit a trophy creation (see The Little Brown Jug).

Penn State is known as Linebacker U, Northwestern is coached by legendary Big Ten linebacker Pat Fitzgerald.

But that's not where we're going with this.

Both schools feature cat-scots: Nittany Lions and Wildcats …

Suggestion: The Battle for The Old Ball of Yarn


Actually, this used to be a trophy game, but was defunct in 1943 due to Minnesota's refusal to accept the trophy out of respect for World War II.

Everyone has their reasons, but it's time to bring back the fabled "Slab of Bacon" trophy. This trophy has, of course, been replaced by Paul Bunyan's Axe.

But come on. It'd be cheap to make, easy to put together and adored by all. Bring it back. …

Suggestion: The Battle for the Old Slab of Bacon

You know I would love to hear your suggestions for would-be Big Ten trophy games. Drop me a comment or an email.

But, for now, on with the notes.


Sparty celebrates a Michigan State touchdown against Michigan last Saturday.

Melanie Maxwell I

Sky high:
Michigan State (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten)

As if beating in-state rival Michigan wasn't sweet enough for the Spartans, the gang from East Lansing now finds itself in the driver's seat for the Big Ten Legends' Division championship.

And if MSU can manage to knock off Wisconsin at home in a prime time tilt this weekend, then the Spartans clearly become the team to beat in the Big Ten moving forward.

There's plenty of work to do before that happens, and a bad loss at home to the Badgers could knock MSU off this perch rather quickly. But for now, anyway, things are looking pretty good on the banks of the Red Cedar.


Indiana receiver Duwyce Wilson didn't make this catch against Illinois, and not much else has gone well for the Hoosiers this season.

AP Photo

Rock bottom:
Indiana (1-6, 0-3)

Indiana sits here in part because it can't be Minnesota every week, and in part because the Hoosiers are terrible.

Midway through last week, I took to Twitter to express my shock at how Indiana was a 40-point dog to Wisconsin. Forty points? Against a conference opponent? I don't care how bad you are, I wrote, that seemed high.

WIthin minutes, I was reminded by several Twitter followers how wrong I was, and how bad the Hoosiers really were. On Saturday, they were proven right, and I was wrong.

Wisconsin not only covered, but the Badgers did so with room to spare, beating woeful Indiana by 52 points.

How bad is Indiana? Rather than attempting to let the football team have Saturday all to itself, the IU basketball team decided to trump its campus brother by hosting its midnight madness event later that night.

Don't worry Bloomington-ites, Indiana's basketball season officially begins with an exhibition on Nov. 5.

Last week's heavy lifter: Montee Ball, Wisconsin junior RB

This is starting to get ridiculous.

Ball accounted for four more touchdowns last week, three on the ground, and one with his arm. He became the first non-Wisconsin quarterback to throw for a touchdown since 1982, and now has had a hand in 18 total touchdowns through six games.

Ball is on a 12-game pace to score 32 rushing touchdowns this season. He's also second in the Big Ten with 653 rushing yards.

Standout stats:


Sacks allowed by the Michigan offensive line prior to last Saturday. The Wolverines allowed seven sacks in a loss at Michigan State, the fourth straight in the rivalry.


The number of Big Ten teams ranked among the nation's top 36 defenses. Michigan State (No. 2), Penn State (No. 6), Wisconsin (No. 7), Illinois (No. 12), Ohio State (No. 18) and Michigan (No. 36).


First downs achieved by Minnesota through two weeks of Big Ten play.


Average margin of victory for Wisconsin through six games this season.

"What he's done, what he's experienced and what he's earned is a lot of respect. Nobody would second guess (starting him) in this facility." — Ohio State coach Luke Fickell on his decision to start the previously suspended Boom Herron last week, rather than one of his backs that wasn't suspended.

Off the cuff:
His playing days may be long over, but former Michigan State and NBA standout Steve Smith still knows how to box out.

Following the Michigan-Michigan State game at Spartan Stadium last week, colleague Kyle Meinke and I were waiting to catch an elevator from the press box to the field for postgame interviews.

So was Steve Smith.

And apparently, no elevator is big enough for Steve and Kyle. With the elevator reaching full capacity, Smith declared "media first." He then boxed Kyle out of the elevator, and flashed a grin as the door closed.

We caught the next one.

Follow Steve on Twitter @NBATVSteve. Follow Kyle on Twitter @kmeinke.

I urge you to hassle them both for some sort rematch.

Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan sports for He can be reached at 734-623-2514, by email at and followed on Twitter @nickbaumgardner.



Fri, Oct 21, 2011 : 3:17 a.m.

MSU-UW trophy should be a dairy cow. MSU would rather the trophy was a pair of handcuffs (they have plenty of them) but I'm sure UW would favor a cow instead.

Stephen Landes

Thu, Oct 20, 2011 : 6:28 p.m.

Wisconsin-MSU trophy? A giant cheese (Dairy State and Moo U) which they can "cut" after the game and share among the winners: Wisconsin cheddar for Madison and Limburger for Eat Lansing.


Thu, Oct 20, 2011 : 5:17 p.m.

"Battle for the Old Rolling Cooler"? PERFECT. Although your cooler looks new and is blue. To remedy that just lend it to a fraternity or sorority for a weekend at both schools. And change the colors to red and green. But then it would probably have to be called "Battle for the Old Broken Christmas Cooler".


Thu, Oct 20, 2011 : 2:29 p.m.

I must admit, I don't understand how not accepting the Slab of Bacon trophy showed respect for WWII. Was it because of food rationing? Was Wisconsin's team depleted because they were off serving in the war? Seriously, someone please help me understand this.


Thu, Oct 20, 2011 : 4:09 p.m.

The Wisconsin football team was far from depleted during WWII. The University of Wisconsin was a major military training site during war. Look up the player rosters for Wisconsin ('42-'45). Then, for example, look at Michigan's roster for the late 40's. Names look familiar? The G.IU. Bill was a great recruiting factor (along with Fritz).

Nick Baumgardner

Thu, Oct 20, 2011 : 2:32 p.m.

Thank you, Bmore! I actually said the same exact thing out loud when I first heard about that. I believe it had to do with the coach not wanting to participate in trophy celebrations while a war was going on. Out of respect, I believe. However, maybe the bacon had something to do with it as well. In any event, bring it back.


Thu, Oct 20, 2011 : 1:28 p.m.

Misdemeanor State U v The Olentangy Stench U = The Burnt Couch Trophy (possibly sponsored by Art Van or Value City) Northwestern v Michigan = The Charles Dickens Trophy (A Tale of Two States of Mind Surrounded by Reality)


Thu, Oct 20, 2011 : 12:51 p.m.

"catbird seat?" Let's get back to the 21st century!! :)

NC Wolverine 20

Thu, Oct 20, 2011 : 12:51 p.m.

Nebraska v. Iowa = Farmageddon. Trophy = dual purpose missile/corn silo.

Feat of Clay

Thu, Oct 20, 2011 : 7:53 p.m.

Absolutely, love this idea. As for the original suggestion....I think of a rototiller as something found in the suburbia. Give me a good disc harrow any day!

Nick Baumgardner

Thu, Oct 20, 2011 : 1:03 p.m.

I like your style, NC.


Thu, Oct 20, 2011 : 12:30 p.m.

Great article, made me laugh out loud. BUT... you gotta do some research. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Wisconsin still plays for a trophy with Minn. - the Paul Bunyon Axe Floyd of Rosedale is probably the coolest story. I feel that trophys shouldn't be contrived. The Brown Jug and Floyd of Rosedale are great in this regard (not being contrived). Why Bert Bulimia want a trophy with Sparty is beyond me, it would be an irregular cross over trophy and contrived to boot. Kind of worthless.


Thu, Oct 20, 2011 : 12:40 p.m.

Ooopps. Sorry, needed to read a little more. My bad.