By Jack Robaszkiewicz
I am a huge University of Michigan fan. I’ve always loved learning about the program’s rich history and long-standing traditions. My favorite tradition is the battle for the Little Brown Jug. Every year, The University of Michigan and The University of Minnesota play for an antique clay jug as a trophy. The Little Brown Jug is the oldest trophy in college football; However, the jugs origin wasn’t a trophy at all.
Before playing the Minnesota Golden Gophers in 1903, the University of Michigan was riding a 28-game winning streak led by legendary coach Fielding H. Yost. When Yost and the team arrived in Minneapolis for the 1903 game, student manager Thomas B. Roberts was told to purchase something to carry water. Yost was worried that Gopher fans might try to contaminate his player’s water. Roberts went to the nearest store, purchased a five-gallon jug for 30 cents, and filled it with clean water.
That afternoon, the two teams battled it out on the grid iron in a primarily defensive game. Both teams had a difficult time moving the ball due to poor weather conditions. Throughout majority of the game, Michigan held a 6-0 lead over the Gophers. However, late in the fourth quarter Minnesota put together a game tying drive with about two minutes to play. Minnesota fans were overcome with such emotions that they stormed the field causing the game to be called early. Final score: Michigan-6, Minnesota-6. This ended the Wolverines 28- game winning streak. Frustrated that the game was called early, Fielding Yost and his Wolverines stormed out of the stadium to head back to Ann Arbor.
The following day, Yost realized that he had left the jug used for the team’s water. The University of Michigan contacted Minnesota asking for the jug back. Minnesota’s response, “You want the jug back, come win it.” With this, a rivalry is born.
Every time the two teams played after this, the winner would take the jug home with them. For over 100 years Michigan and Minnesota have fought for the right to claim the trophy as their own. Michigan is currently in possession of the trophy after a 33–10 victory on November 4, 2017. Michigan leads the series with a 75–25–3 record.