Minnesota and Michigan have “The Little Brown Jug,” Ohio State and Illinois have the “Illibuck Trophy” and Army, Navy and Air Force have the “Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy.” Lesser known, however, is the “Golden Horseshoe,” a trophy that Cal Poly and UC Davis football players battle for each year.
Cal Poly and UC Davis went head-to-head for the first time in 1938, but it wasn’t a huge rivalry until the ‘70s. The two teams became “official” rivals in 2004 when “The Golden Horseshoe” was introduced.
Recently, the Aggie Pack hopes to keep the trophy exactly as made, whereas the Maniacs have been looking for ways to improve it.
“When Cal Poly won in 2006 (the Maniacs) decided to beautify it … We took the idea from USC and Notre Dame to put a green or blue gem on the Horseshoe for the team that won (each year),” said Mustang Maniacs co-chair, Kyle Rosso.
However, last year when the Aggies beat the Mustangs in the rivalry game at UC Davis, the Aggie Pack removed the gems.
“We didn’t really agree with the gems and felt that the trophy was better without it,” said the emcee of the Aggie Pack, Thomas Wolff.
The Mustang Maniacs and the Aggie Pack have similar goals when it comes to promoting this game — both hold rallies, create Facebook groups and continuously remind people about the game to get as many fans as possible to show up each Saturday. Each group believes it has the biggest and most supportive fan base.
“This is our number one rival,” Wolff said. “We will be making a four-hour drive down to Cal Poly to be there to make noise.”
Rosso, however, is adamant that Cal Poly has the advantage because he said its fans have more spirit.
Although the rivalry might seem intense, all parties involved said it is nothing but positive for college football and for the two schools in general.
“I believe that any rivalry is good for schools and sports,” Rosso said. “(And) it’s a big part of the college experience too.”
In addition to the rivalry among the fans, Cal Poly cornerback Asa Jackson said there is tension and “extra energy” between the football players on the field.
Given the tie between Cal Poly and UC Davis, Jackson said it is an even bigger game for him and other players because during high school, he, along with a handful of other players, were recruited by UC Davis — but chose to join the Mustangs.
Wolff said that because the schools are similar academically, many students find themselves choosing between the two — adding fuel to the rivalry.
This season, UC Davis was selected by the Big West coaches as the preseason favorite to win the Great West conference, with Cal Poly coming in second. With Cal Poly the Great West winner in 2008 and UC Davis the champion in 2009 each team knows it may come down to getting past the other in order to contend for the Great West.
“We know that we have to win this game in order to reach our main goal — which is to win the Great West,” Jackson said.
The Mustang players are coming into this year’s game with a chip on their shoulders after losing to UC Davis 23-10 last season.
However, a positive thing for the Mustangs is that this year it will have the support of its home crowd and the Mustang Maniacs at Alex G. Spanos Stadium on Nov. 13.
“This game is going to be on our soil,” Rosso said. “It is up to us to show Davis what we are made of.”
But the Aggie Pack is not going down without a fight.
“We are going to be there to make some noise,” Wolff said. “We definitely want to be louder than the competition.”
The Mustang Maniacs, however, are confident in the team and are ready to take back the Golden Horseshoe.
“We can’t wait to get the horseshoe back,” Rosso said. “We plan to put the gems back on when we win to make it better.”
The Mustangs will be doing all it can to return the Golden Horseshoe to who they believe is the proper owner. And as always, the game will be a heated one that involves students dressed in “Beat Davis” shirts and the Aggie Pack taking up an entire set of bleachers in the end zone.
“The UC Davis game is the last home game of the season,” Rosso said. “I can’t think of a better way to end it.”