The Illini play for two of the oldest rivalry trophies in the Big Ten: The Illibuck and the Purdue Cannon. Combined these two trophies represent 162 years of Illinois football tradition.
The Illibuck dates back to 1925, when Junior Honor Societies from Illinois and Ohio State were looking to create a trophy to celebrate the anticipated long series between these Big Ten foes. So the groups chose a turtle due to its long life; they went with a live one. Naturally, the turtle died two years later, and both schools decided to replace it with a turtle of the wooden variety. Now, the winning school writes the latest score on the turtle’s shell, and every 10 years or so years – when no room remains for another score – a new trophy is created.
The Cannon’s long and storied history dates back to 1905 when a group of Purdue students brought it to Illinois with plans of shooting it following a presumed Boilermaker victory. Some Illinois fans found the trophy and took it before the Purdue fans could celebrate their team’s win. Fast forward to 1943 and the cannon was presented to the winner of the Purdue vs. Illinois battle on the gridiron for the first time. Today, the winning team can only hoist, celebrate and admire the rivalry trophy until the Big Ten rivals again face off on the field; the cannon was last fired in 1983.
These two mini trophies are perfect for the desk or as ornaments on your Christmas tree.