For over 68 years, Michigan State and Indiana have made their Big Ten rivalry unique by competing for their annual trophy, the Old Brass Spittoon.
The Spartans have brought the trophy back 47 times, and celebrated by spitting into the trophy at the end of each victory.
“Play for the Brass Spittoon, long-standing trophy game for us, and we've been fortunate on the front end of that, for the most part, as we move forward here but we'll play for that,” coach Mark Dantonio said.
The rivalry between the Hoosiers and Spartans dates all the way back to 1927, but the trophy itself was introduced in 1950 and was founded by then-junior class president at MSU, Gene McDermott, to help rally the Spartan fan base. McDermott took the trophy into both the Spartans' and Hoosiers' locker rooms to show the teams what they were fighting for, and MSU proceeded to beat IU 35-0.
Last season, Dantonio sent a personal video to McDermott around Christmas time after his nurse emailed the Spartan coach about the creation of the Old Brass Spittoon. The team offered the now 93-year-old a chance to hold the trophy again after defeating Indiana last season 17-9.
Junior quarterback Brian Lewerke celebrated with the trophy for the first in his Spartan career last season when they faced the Hoosiers in Spartan Stadium.
“I’ve spit in it a couple of times,” Lewerke said. “I had the opportunity after the game to do that, so that’s fun. It’s a very interesting trophy. It’s a little beat up now, but it’s something we take pride in for sure.”
A majority of the players, similar to Lewerke, celebrated with it for the first time last season as well, since the team loss to Indiana back in 2016 in Bloomington.
Junior linebacker Joe Bachie looks to continue the tradition again on Saturday, and get a victory in Memorial Stadium, where the Spartans are 24-10-1.
“It needs to stay here,” Bachie said. “Last year was the first year I got it. The year before that we went there and ended up losing it, so we need to get it and spit in it after the game.”
This alone isn’t the only trophy that Michigan State will fight for in the Big Ten Conference. They will also compete for the Land Grant trophy against Penn State on Oct. 13, and the Paul Bunyan trophy against University of Michigan on Oct. 20.
For Dantonio and his team, the Old Brass Spittoon trophy is still shown off with pride and will continue to battled for, for years to come.
“We've got it,” Dantonio said. “We spit in it then we clean it out, get it ready for next year, if we're fortunate enough to win.”