San Diego State and Fresno State have met 50 times before in their respective program histories, but never have they played for ... an antique oil can.
SDSU announced today that the renewal of the Aztec-Bulldog rivalry will come with a title and a trophy: "The Battle for the Oil Can" and a "special antique oil can trophy to honor the two schools' in-state rivalry," SDSU said in a press release.
Most of the players laughed when they heard about it. Even head coach Rocky Long got a chuckle out of it.
"I think it's nice when you have a rivalry like this that you have some kind of trophy like this that's a traveling trophy," Long said with a smile. "They didn't ask my opinion on what the trophy should be. But an oil can is just as good as anything."
Added star running back Ronnie Hillman: "I don't really understand it. Right now, I have no history of the oil can, so when I figure that out, I'll be able to let you know."
The history of it all supposedly dates back to the discovery of an oil can from Fresno that was found during an SDSU building project. That story was apparently enough to create a "Battle for the Oil Can" rivalry, so the schools' alumni associations bought an antique oil can and will award it to the winner of this weekend's game.
"The oil can likely came from a time when Aztec and Bulldog fans traveled to football games between the two schools via the old, twisting, precipitous Grapevine section of Highway 99 over Tejon Pass," Executive Director of the Fresno State Alumni Association Jacquelyn K. Glasener said in the statement.
The rivalry started in 1923 when SDSU beat Fresno State in a 12-2 victory at home. The schools have played 49 times since then, with the Aztecs holding a 26-20-4 all-time series lead.
The newly-minted oil can battle will take place at 5 p.m. on Saturday at Qualcomm Stadium.