College football rivalries: Key dates in Michigan–Mich. State history

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               (Photo: Russell42, wikimedia commons)

Nov. 14, 1953: First Paul Bunyan Trophy Game
Michigan State 14, Michigan 6.

You’ve probably noticed it being carried about after every Michigan-Michigan State football game. Symbolic of the Spartans’ acceptance into the Big Ten, the Paul Bunyan trophy was donated to the rivalry by former Governor, G. Mennen Williams.

The four-foot statue is representative of the mythical lumberjack Paul Bunyan, whose magical axe supposedly carved out the Grand Canyon and even the Great Lakes. Some claim Bunyan was just a character in a lumber company’s advertising campaign.

Legend places Oscoda, Michigan, as Bunyan’s birthplace, while the end of his line supposedly came in Kelliher, Minnesota.

The trophy, which is definitely real, has gone to the winner each year since 1953. Michigan State grabbed it first with a 14-6 win at Macklin Stadium, but the Wolverines hold a 35-24-2 advantage in the series. The Spartans won it back last year with a 29-6 win.