Saturday’s Mountain West Conference game between Utah State and Wyoming is mostly unremarkable, as the only thing really on the line is Utah State’s shot at the Mountain Division title and a ticket to the conference championship game. However, to spice things up a little, the two schools announced yesterday that this week’s game will mark the beginning of a new rivalry that will now be known as “Bridger’s Battle.” The name pays tribute to iconic mountain man Jim Bridger, who, if he were alive today, would probably react by cutting down a tree with his teeth and punching a bear.
What’s really interesting in a “This might not go over very well” kind of way is what the schools chose for the Bridger’s Battle trophy, as the winning team will be presented the “Bridger Rifle,” a .50 caliber Rocky Mountain Hawken rifle that is believed to be the same model carried by Bridger, according to Utah State’s media folk.
“It has been fun working with Wyoming Athletics Director Tom Burman and his staff on the Bridger’s Battle game,” said USU Vice President and Athletics Director Scott Barnes. “Our historic rivalry, geographic proximity and institutional commonalities make a rivalry trophy a no brainer. It’s gratifying to see a rivalry being restored when in so many cases recently, the wave of conference realignment has forced several to fall.”
“I think the concept of Bridger’s Battle and the traveling rifle trophy is a good idea by both universities,” said USU head coach Matt Wells. “The Wyoming series is one of the oldest in school history, and it will add great significance annually to the game.”
For the record, I think the Bridger Rifle is a pretty cool trophy because I dig history and all that old stuff they taught us in school, but if my observational skills are as good as I think they are, I’m betting that someone somewhere is probably going to be pretty pissed off when one of the teams – presumably the 7-4 Aggies – is waving a rifle around on the field. Call me crazy, but with the way people complain about anything and everything these days, I’m just trying to brace us for any ham-fisted cyber outrage.