With the 30-14 thrashing of the Wolverines in Michigan, the Gophers return the “Little Brown Jug” to its home, in Minneapolis, on campus at the University of Minnesota.
The Jug came to existence out of paranoia in 1903 when Michigan Wolverines’ head coach, who had not lost since joining the Wolverines in 1901, became worried that Minnesota would taint the water supply to gain a competitive advantage. Worried, Yost instructed a student manager to purchase a water jug for his players.
The rivalry between the Gophers and Wolverines started in Minneapolis in 1892 when the Gophers defeated the Wolverines 14-6. The 1903 meeting between the teams was the seventh game in the rivalry and the Wolverines had a 4-2 lead in the matchup.
The game, played October 31, 1903 at Northrop Field on campus at the University of Minnesota was sold out and had 20,000 fans climbing trees and telephone poles to catch a glimpse of the undefeated Wolverines offense against their Gophers. Minnesota dominated the play during the game but, late in the second half, trailing the Wolverines 6-0, the Gophers were able to punch in a touchdown to tie the game.
Fans, coming unglued, rushed the field causing such a ruckus that the officials called the game, resulting in a 6-6 tie.
Frustrated in defeat, the Wolverines left the locker room in such a hurry that they forgot their water jug. The Gopher athletic department retrieved the jug and wrote “Michigan Jug ‘Captured’ by Oscar October 31, 1903” after the game. In 1909, the next time the two teams met, the two coaches and team captains agreed that it would be fun make the Jug the trophy, awarded to the winner of the game.
In the last 111 years the Michigan Wolverines have a 73-25-3 lead in the series. Michigan fans may try to downplay the loss of the jug but for Gophers fans the win in Ann Arbor, over an admittedly struggling Wolverines team, is giving them hope that the program’s decades long struggle to build a perennially winning program might be coming to fruition. Whatever the case, the Jug is home and Gopher fans can cheer about that.