Miami Celebrates 125 Years of Football

This Saturday marks the 125th Anniversary of Miami football.  Back on December 8, 1888 Miami University played its very first football game and it was against none other than our “friends” down the road, the University of Cincinnati.  The game ended 0-0, but marked the first of what would be the second longest rivalry in division 1 football.  The only rivalry that predates Miami-Cincinnati is North Carolina-Wake Forest which was first played a few months earlier in 1888, on October 18.  The Miami-Cincinnati rivalry is also the 4th most played rivalry.  Below is a list of the rivalries with over 110 meetings between the teams.

Most played NCAA Division 1 Rivalries

Games Rivalry Game/Trophy Record Began
122 Minnesota-Wisconsin Paul Bunyan’s Axe 59-55-8 1890
120 Missouri-Kansas Border War 57-54-9 1891
118 Texas-Texas A&M Lone Star Showdown 76-37-5 1894
117 Miami-Cincinnati Victory Bell 59-51-7 1888
117 Nebraska-Kansas 91-23-3 1892
117 North Carolina-Virginia South’s Oldest Rivalry 59-54-4 1892
116 Auburn-Georgia Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry 54-54-8 1892
116 Oregon-Oregon State Civil War 60-46-10 1894
115 Indiana-Purdue Old Oaken Bucket 72-37-6 1891
115 Stanford-California Big Game 58-46-11 1892
113 Navy-Army Army-Navy 57-49-7 1890
110 Clemson-South Carolina Palmetto Bowl 65-41-4 1896
110 Utah-Utah State Battle of the Brothers 78-29-4 1892
110 Kansas-Kansas State Governor’s Cup 65-40-5 1902
Victory Bell after Miami's win in 2005

Victory Bell after a Miami win

The game between Miami an Cincinnati is better known as the “Battle for the Bell” or the “Battle for the Victory Bell, with the winner receiving the Victory Bell and keeping it until the teams meet again the following year.  Since 1909, the game has been played every season with the exception of 1943 and 1944, when World War II was at its height.  As you can see from the chart above, Miami is currently winning the series 59-51-7, though Cincinnati has won the last seven meetings.  The tradition of the Victory Bell began in the 1890’s when a group of Cincinnati fans “borrowed” the bell from the original Harrison Hall on Miami’s campus. The bell went to the winner of the game over the next 30 years until it disappeared during the 1930’s. The original bell reappeared in 1946 but was retired and is currently being preserved. The current trophy is a replica of the original bell.

Series Facts
Longest Cincinnati Win Streak: 7 games (2006-Current)
Longest Miami Win Streak: 5 Games (1913-1917, 1971-1975)
Largest Cincinnati Win: 46 (1904 46-0)
Largest Miami Win: 41 (1998 41-0)
Series Record: Miami 59-51-7
Series Score: Miami 1884-1844

In addition to starting one of the most played rivalries in college football, that game in 1888 was also the start of Miami’s football program.  During these 125 years Miami has accomplished a lot.  They are currently tied for 24th (with Clemson) in all-time NCAA wins among the 125 Division 1 programs with 688 wins.  Other accomplishments in the first 125 years of Miami football: 

4 Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) Championships (1916-1918, 1921)

3 Buckeye Conference Championships (1932, 1933, 1936)

15 Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championships (1948, 1950, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1958, 1962, 1965, 1973-1975, 1977, 1986, 2003, 2010)

668 wins, 410 Losses and 44 ties

61.3 Winning percentage

24th most wins in NCAA FBS (currently 125 teams)

18th highest winning percentage in NCAA FBS

9 Bowl Game Appearances (1948, 1951, 1962, 1973-1975, 1986, 2003, 2004, 2011)

7 Bowl Victories (1948, 1951, 1962, 1973-1975, 2003, 2011)

10 College Football Hall of Famers (Earl Blaik, George Little, Sid Gillman, Woody Hayes, Bob Babich, Bo Schembechler, Ara Parseghian, Jim Young, Ed Sherman, Carm Cozza)

3 Professional Football Hall of Famers (Paul Brown, Weeb Ewbank, Sid Gillman)


Johnathan Cooper