The Iron Bowl. The Big Game. The Red River Rivalry.
The Battle for the Oil Can?
On Saturday at Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego State football fans will get to see the revival of an in-state rivalry, when Fresno State (4-8, 3-4 WAC) comes to town.
Saturday’s game, dubbed “The Battle for the Oil Can,” will be played for a traveling trophy: The Oil Can.
“I don’t really understand it,” sophomore running back Ronnie Hillman said with a laugh. “Right now, I have no history of the oil can, so when I figure that out, I’ll be able to let you know.”
“I think it’s nice when you have a rivalry like this that you have some kind of trophy that’s a traveling trophy,” head coach Rocky Long added. “They didn’t ask my opinion on what the trophy should be, but an oil can is just as good as anything.”
SDSU and Fresno State are facing off for the 51st time — the most of an Aztec opponent in school history. Although SDSU leads the series with a 26-20-4 record (including a 13-6 mark in the Division I era), the Bulldogs have the most recent victory, recording a 16-14 win in Fresno back in August 2002.
The all-time score difference between the two teams is less than a touchdown: SDSU 1,017 – FSU 1,011.
“This week we play Fresno State, which is renewing a rivalry,” Long said. “And so I’ve been reading up on the rivalry and it’s a pretty amazing thing. There’s only a six point difference. The two schools have played each other 50 times, and there’s only six points difference in total score.”
The Oil Can trophy was chosen by the two schools’ alumni associations. They staged a contest asking entrants for a name and trophy for the rivalry, and the winning entry told of “an oil can from Fresno (circa 1935) that was supposedly recovered during a San Diego State campus building project,” according to a statement by the San Diego State athletics department.
Jacquelyn K. Glasener, executive director of the FSU Alumni Association, gave her 2 cents on the rivalry name and trophy.
“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,” Glasener said in a press release.
With a win on Saturday against the Bulldogs, SDSU would match last year’s 8-4 regular season record, and, with a possible bowl game left to play in, will have its most wins in back-to-back seasons since the Aztecs went 20-2 from 1976-77.