Written By Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)
When the Indiana Hoosiers (3-3, 0-2) take the field on Saturday afternoon to face the Michigan State Spartans 5-1 (2-0) they will be playing for something more than just pride and a Big Ten win. They will be seeking to reclaim the Old Brass Spittoon for the first time since 2006 when the Hoosiers knocked off the Spartans 46-21.
The Old Brass Spittoon is believed to be over 200 years old and has been awarded to the winner of the matchup between Michigan State and Indiana since 1950. However, the trophy game kind of flies under the radar. Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson may have a reason why some people in Bloomington have never heard of it. "Our last win is, what, 2006? So they have a nice long run. Didn't play them every year but since '93, I think they are 2-14 in that series. They have controlled it and they have this (Old Brass) Spittoon and we need to go get that thing” Wilson alluded to the Hoosiers lack of success in the series at his press conference on Monday. He is correct that when put together that a lack of success and the on again off again match up really hinders the trophy’s recognition among IU fans. Well, now that Indiana and Michigan State are both in the same division this rivalry can heat up again.
For any trophy game to have meaning, the players have to buy into it first. Indiana senior safety Mark Murphy says that “we’ve played it up in the sense of it’s not always their trophy.” The Hoosiers have only had possession of the Spittoon twice since 1991. Murphy added that, “We’ve been very competitive with them the last couple years. The biggest thing for us is that it is a big game for us and we want to play well.” The Spittoon game will always take a back seat to the Old Oaken Bucket Game and the rivalry against Purdue. Junior Bandit Nick Mangeiri added that, “the Bucket rivalry will always be the biggest rival for us no doubt, but yeah (Coach Wilson) has mentioned it a little bit and what it comes down to is it’s Michigan State-Indiana, it’s a Big Ten game and we have to win the game.”
In order for this trophy game to gain some traction the Hoosiers need to start winning games in this matchup. This is a game that can help foster a football culture at Indiana. Nothing screams college football more than playing for a 200-year old brass object that sells for $56 on Amazon. Can the Hoosiers make this rivalry almost as important to the fan base as the Old Oaken Bucket? Yes, and that could start Saturday with an upset win over the sixth ranked Spartans.