Every game on the schedule is important. It doesn’t matter the sport or how many games are on the schedule. In football, you only get so many, far fewer than most other sports. So each one carries a great deal of importance and appeal.
And there are certain games on a football schedule that may seem just a bit more appealing. I think conference games are like that. And I think if a conference game also happens to be a “trophy” game, well, all the more fun.
A trophy game is a game that presents the winner with a little something extra. Yes, that’s usually a travelling trophy. But as we know it can be an Oaken Bucket, a Crystal Bowl or any other prize that goes with that all-important victory.
I happen to really enjoy trophy games. And I was so fortunate to cover a number of them, especially while broadcasting Cowboy football games over the years. Wyoming football is somewhat unique in that the Pokes will play not just one, but three trophy games nearly every year.
In fact, the 2022 Cowboys will enter a three-game stretch where they will play their three trophy game one after another. It starts with tomorrow night’s game with Utah State, continues with a game in Honolulu next Saturday against Hawaii, and then finishes after a second bye week with the annual Border War against rival Colorado State on Nov. 12 in Fort Collins.
There is a rifle, a trophy and a boot all in line for the victors of the next three Cowboys games. All are classic extras, outstanding rewards to go to the winners. And like any reputable reward, the winning team gets to keep it for a full year.
The Bridger Rifle, the Paniolo Trophy and the Bronze Boot are always on the sidelines when the Cowboys face the Utah State Aggies, the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors and the Colorado State Rams. The trophies are always right there near the bench of the team that holds it.
And what a scene when the team that wins the game parades around the field with the prize. What a spectacle when the winning team sprints across the field to take possession of the prize from the team that has just lost it.
I’ve seen it go both ways for the Cowboys over the years. I’ve seen the opponent come across the field and take it from the Cowboy bench. And I’ve enjoyed the visual of the Cowboys, as a team, crossing the gridiron to take possession of the prize. These are the unique aspects of a trophy game.
Right now, the Cowboys have possession of two of the tree trophies
The Cowboys rushed across Merlin Olsen Field at Maverick Stadium in Logan, Utah, last season to take Bridger’s Rifle from the Utah State sideline. Wyoming played one of its best games of the season to beat the Aggies 44-17 and bring this novel travelling trophy back to Wyoming.
The Pokes also have the Bronze Boot on display in Laramie.
The Cowboys clobbered their arch-rivals from Colorado State 31-17 in War Memorial Stadium last season. The Rams had taken possession of the Boot in 2020 after beating the Cowboys in Fort Collins, and the Cowboys had to watch CSU come across the football field and take the Bronze Boot from the Wyoming sideline.
Payback was especially sweet when the Cowboys crossed their home field and re-took the Bronze Boot. It’s one of the great memories I have from my last season broadcasting Cowboy football.
The only one of the three travelling trophies that the Cowboys do not have in their possession is the Paniolo Trophy. A paniolo is a Hawaiian Cowboy, and last year the Rainbow Warriors came to Laramie and re-took the Paniolo Trophy. Hawaii beat the Pokes 31-17 and came across Jonah Field to take the prize from the Cowboys sideline. The Cowboys will attempt to re-take the trophy in a few weeks in Honolulu.
It’s just a little spice added to the mix that makes a game a bit more interesting. The travelling trophy makes a great event even more appealing.
And won’t it be fun over the next month as the Cowboys play for Bridger’s Rifle, the Paniolo Trophy and the iconic Bronze Boot.