The annual matchup between Big Ten West foes Nebraska and Wisconsin received the conference's official stamp of a rivalry Monday -- its very own trophy.
The Cornhuskers and Badgers will play from now on for the Freedom Trophy. The prize features a bronze stadium beneath a giant American flag and is intended to honor and remember war veterans. The first winner will be determined Saturday when the two teams meeting Madison, five days after Veterans Day.
“Trophy games are part of the tradition of college football, and I’m thrilled that we’re going to be introducing one into our rivalry with Nebraska,” said Barry Alvarez, Wisconsin's athletic director. “The Freedom Trophy brings recognition to two historic football venues and it honors our nation’s veterans. It is something I know the coaches, student-athletes and fans of both programs will embrace for years to come.”
Nebraska, which joined the Big Ten in 2011, is now a part of two trophy games with fellow conference members. The Cornhuskers started playing Iowa for the Heroes Trophy in their annual regular-season finale as soon as they joined the conference. In a league where teams battle over everything from spittoons to the shrine of a dead pig, Nebraska's list or rivalry tokens is the least quirky and most patriotic of the group. Wisconsin plays Minnesota each season to control possession of Paul Bunyan's Axe.
Nebraska and Wisconsin have met eight times prior to this week's game and each team has won four times. Along with the Freedom Trophy, a spot in the Big Ten title game may also be up for grabs this weekend. Both teams have one conference loss. The winner on Saturday will be a favorite to represent the West Division in Indianapolis in December.