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History of The Old Brass Spittoon

The Spartans head to Indiana to battle for an old friend

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The Old Brass Spittoon has been around since 1950, yet it is rarely recognized in the realm of rivalry trophies. While Michigan State and Indiana have been playing each other ever since 1922 they did not begin their rivalry until The Old Brass Spittoon was brought in. Before that these two teams had four meetings, Indiana won three of them and the other ended in a 7-7 tie in East Lansing.

The tradition itself was first introduced by Michigan State Class President Eugene McDermott. The Year McDermott went out and bought the Spittoon it was supposedly for even more motivation for the Spartan players that year. He was anxious to avoid losing to Indiana after coming off a big win against another one of Sparty’s big rivals, Notre Dame. It’s safe to say his plan ended up working out well for him and the rest of Spartan Nation. That same year they ended up crushing the Hoosiers 35-0 in East Lansing. Not a bad way to officially kick off a rivalry.

In the same 1950 season that McDermott introduced the Spittoon the Spartans finished 8-1 on the year under the head coaching of Biggie Munn. That was Michigan State’s last year as an independent before joining the Big Ten in 1951. Since then the Spartans have dominated this rivalry with 45 wins, 15 losses and two ties.

The history of this rivalry shows that it has been less than competitive. The longest period that The Old Spittoon stayed in Hoosier land was three years in a row, from 1967-1969. The following nine games resulted in eight wins for the Spartans and another tie.

Perhaps The Old Brass Spittoon gets lost in the fray because of the fact that the rivalry has been traditionally dominated by Michigan State. Within both fan bases there remains a number of people who do not really pay attention to the trophy, while some do not even know that they play for it.

While there is a large number of football fans who enjoy to see fun and competitive games, lets just hope that Sparty extends their winning streak against Indiana this Saturday so that all four rival trophies will remain right where they belong. East Lansing, Michigan.

There are certain rivalries that are protected in the Big Ten and the Spartans vs Indiana is not one of them. Prior to the Big Ten expansion in 2011 there was eight seasons where Indiana did not show up on the Spartans schedule. After the expansion Michigan State and Indiana were placed in the same Big Ten division, almost guaranteeing that their rivalry would continue annually.

The Spartans sure do have a thing for their rivals trophies as they currently hold them all. The Spartans have held onto the Old Spittoon since 2007. An extended stay in East Lansing is just what the doctor ordered.

Most college football fans will tell you that this is a small rivalry and the recognition it gets throughout the college football nation actually represents this notion of being “small time”. All these teams can do is continue to step on the field with one another year after year and hope that their rivalry will one day blossom into the rivalries that sports fans everywhere enjoy watching every year. You would assume that the more the game is played, the more recognition it will receive, making way for The Old Brass Spittoon to get the attention it deserves.