The Bones Football Trophy

The Paul Bunyan Trophy (Michigan-Michigan State), Paul Bunyan Axe (Wisconsin-Minnesota), the Old Oaken Bucket (Purdue-Indiana) and the Little Brown Jug (Minnesota-Michigan) are among the most recognizable college football rivalry trophies contested every season.

But in a sport that has plenty of really bizarre traditions, the trophies fought for in so-called rivalry games may be some of the strangest. There are plenty of animals – or depictions of animals – awarded to winners of rivalry games. Consider the "Civil War" game in which the Oregon-Oregon State winner gets a trophy of a platypus, the "Floyd of Rosedale" trophy, which replaced an actual hog in the annual Iowa-Minnesota game or the "Illibuck," a long-lived turtle to represent the long-standing Ohio State-Illinois rivalry. Ironically, the original Illibuck turtle died in 1927, just two years after it began being exchanged and it’s been since replaced by a wood-carved trophy.

Here's a look at some of the weirdest trophies in the history of college football.

Jeweled Shillelagh: USC-Notre Dame

Wikimedia Jeweled Shillelagh – USC vs. Notre Dame

First off, you're probably wondering what the heck a "shillelagh" is. Well, the dictionary definition is this: "A thick stick of blackhorn or oak used in Ireland, typically as a weapon." Now that we've clarified, the "Jeweled Shillelagh" goes to the winner of the USC-Notre Dame game – the longest intersectional rivalry in college football. The shillelagh in use is not the original – that one, covered with ruby-adorned Trojan heads and emerald-studded shamrocks – was retired in 1995 and is on display at Notre Dame. The current shillelagh has a longer handle and brass medallions are affixed. The trophy originated in 1952.

Land-Grant Trophy: Michigan State-Penn State

Twitter Land-Grant Trophy – Michigan State vs. Penn State

The two oldest land-grant universities in the nation, Michigan State and Penn State play annually for the Land Grant Trophy. It is adorned with photos of MSU's "Old Main" and PSU's "Beaumont Tower" as well as small statues of the Spartan and Nittany Lion Shrine, making a disorganized jumble of a prize. It was not what then- coaches George Perles and Joe Paterno pictured when creating a trophy – former MSU athletic director Ted Hoffman recalled on picking up the trophy at the shop more than 20 years ago: "I thought, 'My God, that's big.' I'll take the blame for it being so big and heavy." The series officially started in 1914, but was played only 10 times between 1914-1966. In 1993, the teams became "permanent" rivals after Penn State joined the Big Ten, and the game is played annually on the last week of the conference schedule.

Bayou Bucket: Houston-Rice

University Of Houston Bayou Bucket – Houston vs. Rice

Possibly one of the ugliest trophies in college football history, the Bayou Bucket was awarded to the winner of the Houston-Rice game from 1974-2013, when conference realignment put an end to the annual game. Houston won the final contest of the series and thought it had the bucket in perpetuity, but the teams announced a home-and-home series in 2017-18. The four-year break between games is the second in the rivalry, which went on a three-year hiatus after the Southwest Conference broke up in 1995. The bucket pays homage to the City of Houston's nickname "The Bayou City."

Dakota Marker: North Dakota State-South Dakota State Dakota Marker – North Dakota State vs. South Dakota State

A relatively new trophy, the Dakota Marker is a replica of the 720 quartzite markers placed between North Dakota and South Dakota between 1891-92, when the territories were split. The original markers were each seven feet tall and 10 inches wide and inscribed with "N.D." on the north side and "S.D." on the south side. The trophy, awarded to the winner of the North Dakota State and South Dakota State game, weighs 75 pounds and is inscribed with "N.D.," "S.D.," and 170M – the distance between Fargo, North Dakota, and Brookings, South Dakota. It was first awarded in 2004, though the rivalry dates back to 1903.

Old Brass Spittoon: Indiana-Michigan State Old Brass Spittoon – Indiana vs. Michigan State

While the Indiana-Michigan State rivalry dates back to 1922, the Old Brass Spittoon as a trophy wasn't awarded until 1950, when Michigan State joined the Big Ten. The trophy was started by an MSU alum, Gene McDermott, who bought it at an antique shop in order to avoid a letdown in the game after a loss to Notre Dame, according to The Spartans won, 35-0, that year and the Old Brass Spittoon became a symbol of the game. The idea behind the trophy was a nod to the "untamed" Midwest of the 1800s. Unfortunately, it is overshadowed by the Old Oaken Bucket, awarded to the winner of the annual Indiana-Purdue game.

Paddlewheel Trophy: Pittsburgh-Cincinnati

Pinterest Paddlewheel Trophy – Pittsburgh vs. Cincinnati

Pittsburgh and Cincinnati don't share a whole lot other than a river, so the powers that be at both schools decided to capitalize on that, creating the River City Rivalry. The only problem – there really is no rivalry, though the idea did create one of the freakiest trophies in all of college football – one that lights up and has jingly bells on it. It's nearly impossible to lift, as it weighs 95 pounds. The trophy debuted in 2005 but the game was short-lived, another victim of conference realignment. The trophy, however, lives in infamy, a member of nearly every "worst" college football trophy list out there.

The Bones: Memphis-UAB

Wikimedia The Bones – Memphis vs. UAB

Currently on hiatus since Memphis moved to the Big East and UAB isn't currently fielding a football team, The Bones aren't really bones – instead, it's a 100-pound bronze rack of ribs awarded to the UAB-Memphis winner. Why? The rivalry is called the "Battle of the Bones" to honor each team's love of barbeque. The trophy was awarded from 1997-2012.