News and Tribune

October 17, 2010

Gridiron grudge match: Annual Hoosier rivalry games you don’t want to miss


> SOUTHERN INDIANA — If you love the hoopla and fanfare surrounding college football rivalry games, but couldn’t make it to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium to see UK and U of L play for the Governor’s Cup this year, don't worry. On this side of the Ohio River we like to wait until the weather cools down and the anticipation amps up before we start playing for hardware.

The Tribune and The Evening News has compiled a list of Indiana colleges, both large and small, who have yet to meet on the gridiron for their annual grudge match. From D III to D I, from West Lafayette to Bloomington, these games get Hoosiers hollering like no other.

Old Oaken Bucket

Indiana University Hoosiers vs. Purdue University Boilermakers, since 1891

The most famous Indiana college football rivalry is IU and Purdue, where the winner brings the Old Oaken Bucket back to their school and adds either a “P” or an “I” to the chain attached to the bucket.

IU and Purdue first played each other in 1891, but it wasn't until 1925 that the two began playing for the most famous trophy in Indiana college football.

Tasked with finding a suitable trophy to commemorate the rivalry game, Russell Gray of Chicago’s Purdue alumni chapter and Dr. Clarence Jones of Indiana’s recommended that, “an old oaken bucket would be a most typical trophy from this state and should be taken from a well somewhere in Indiana,” according to Purdue’s website. Purdue’s Fritz Ernst and Whiley J. Huddle of Indiana found the bucket on the old Bruner farm between Kent and Hanover in Southern Indiana. While this story is widely popular, other stories of the bucket’s origin, listed on the Old Oaken Bucket website, dispute it.

Whatever the origins of the bucket, the first bucket game ended in a 0 to 0 tie, which is why the first link on the chain is “IP.” Since that first bucket game Purdue has dominated the series, adding 54 “P” links to the chain, while Indiana has only added 26 “I” links. Two more “IP” links have also been added. Purdue leads the all-time series between the schools 68 to 36 with six games ending in a tie.

Taking a road trip to West Lafayette?

• This year: Nov. 27 at Purdue’s Ross-Ade Stadium. Big Ten conference rivals. Source: Purdue website.

• Recent series history: 2009, Purdue, 38-21; 2008, Purdue, 62-10; 2007, Indiana, 27-24; 2006, Purdue 28-19; 2005, Purdue, 41-14

• Distance to game: It’s about 182 miles to West Lafayette to see what letter will be the next link in the chain on the Old Oaken Bucket.

Monon Bell

DePauw University Tigers vs. Wabash College Little Giants, since 1890

The two schools, located 28 miles apart, first met on the gridiron in 1890, “making the series the oldest small college football rivalry west of the Alleghenies amongst schools that have met at least 100 times,” according to DePauw’s website. The two teams have played each other 116 times with Wabash leading the series 54-53-9.

The Monon Bell was presented by Russell Alexander, the DePauw publicity director, as the official DePauw-Wabash trophy for football in 1932. The 300-pound locomotive bell was a gift from the Monon Railroad (now L & N), which the two schools are located along.

According to DePauw’s website the bell has been stolen from its temporary owners at least eight times. In 1965 a Wabash student went to DePauw posing as a Mexican dignitary to find out where it was kept, returning later to steal it. To prevent similar thefts, DePauw students stole the bell from their own school and buried it for 11 months in the north end zone of Blackstock Stadium. The ground froze the week of the next rivalry game and the students were barely able to get it out in time for Wabash to take it back to Crawfordsville after their victory.

The week leading up to the game now consists of, “shared activities between the two schools, such as concerts, debates, an intramural all-star football game, an alumni football game the morning of the varsity contest and other events,” according to DePauw’s website.

Heading to Wabash?

• This year: 1:07 p.m. Nov. 13 at Wabash's Byron P. Hollett Little Giant Stadium. Inter-conference rivals. Source: Wabash and DePauw websites.

• Recent series history: 2009, Wabash, 32-19; 2008 DePauw, 36-14; 2007, DePauw, 24-21; 2006 Wabash, 23-20; 2005, Wabash, 17-14

• Distance to game: It’s about a 165-mile drive up I-65, to I-465, to I-74 to get to Wabash. It takes a little bit less than three hours to see an Indiana tradition that began 120 years ago.

Hoosier Helmet

Butler University Bulldogs vs. Valparaiso University Crusaders, since 1927

Thanks to last year's trip to the NCAA men's basketball championship game and Gene Hackman's visit to Hinkle Fieldhouse in the 1986 classic “Hoosiers,” the small, Indianapolis-based university of less than 5,000 students is known across the country. And while Bulldog fans anxiously await a chance at redemption in March, they won't have to wait that long for a chance to break out their blue and white clothes.

Butler will travel north to Valparaiso to try to keep the Hoosier Helmet in Indianapolis for another year. The white helmet on a wooden base has a Valparaiso logo on one side and a Butler logo on the other. It was introduced in 2006.

Hit the road to Brown Field

• This year: 2 p.m. Oct. 30 at Valparaiso’s Brown Field. Pioneer Football League rivals. Source:

• Recent series history: 2009, Butler, 23-14; 2008, Butler, 48-21; 2007, Valparaiso, 42-37; 2006 Butler, 32-10; 2005, Valparaiso, 34-21

• Distance to game: The 271 mile drive is a straight shot up I-65 for almost four and half-hours.

Victory Bell

Franklin College Grizzlies vs. Hanover College Panthers, since 1898

This Indiana college football rivalry began 112 years ago with Hanover winning 18 to 11. Forty years later the Victory Bell was introduced and has been passed back and forth between the two schools ever since, with the exception of a 17-year hiatus from 1971 to 1988 due to the formation of the then Indiana Collegiate Athletic Conference. Hanover leads the all-time series 42-34-3 in 79 meetings, but the Grizzlies have been gaining on the panthers in recent years.

Want to see a fight a faught stadium?

• This year: 1:30 p.m. Nov. 13 at Franklin’s Stewart “Red” Faught Stadium. Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Rivals. Source: GrizzlyBall Yearbook 2010

• Recent series history: 2009, Franklin, 42-28; 2008, Franklin, 34-0; 2007, Franklin, 55-14; 2006, Franklin, 35-10; 2005, Franklin, 45-15.

• Distance to game: About 70 of 94-mile drive is spent on I-65 before getting on U.S. 31. It’s about an hour and a half drive to see if Hanover can snap the series-losing streak and bring the Victory Bell back to Southern Indiana.