Some people will look at Saturday’s game between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Penn State Nittany Lions and see a Top 15 matchup. They’ll see a prize fight between a pair of undefeated teams, both jockeying for position atop their respective Big Ten divisions.
I see a battle for the Bell.
The Governor’s Victory Bell, to be specific.
If you had forgotten about the Governor’s Victory Bell, first I say shame on you. But I can’t say I blame you. It’s one of the most unremarkable “rivalry” trophies in all of college football, and pales especially in comparison to the other tradition-rich trophies associated with Minnesota.
It was first introduced in 1993 by the Big Ten to commemorate Penn State’s inaugural season as a member of the conference. The Gophers happened to be the first team on the Nittany Lions’ conference schedule and thus the Governor’s Victory Bell was born.
That’s it. That’s the story.
Penn State leads the all-time series 9-5 and has had possession of the Bell since 2016, when the Nittany Lions edged the Gophers in overtime, 29-26. They’ve actually won five of their last six games against Minnesota. The Gophers last hoisted the Bell in 2013 with a 24-10 victory over Penn State, although they proceeded to break the trophy as soon as they got their hands on it:
As an extra incentive, Minnesota and Penn State won’t see each other again until 2022. So before you chalk this game up as some simple Top 25 matchup between two Big Ten heavyweights, remember what’s really at stake.