From 2016: Hey Spartan Fans, This Saturday Is A Trophy Game!
There are many fans in the Mid-Michigan area that do not know that Saturday night's football game between MSU and Indiana is a trophy game, much like the Michigan (Paul Bunyan Trophy), Penn State (Land Grant Trophy), and Notre Dame (Megaphone Trophy) games.
It's the Old Brass Spittoon (pictured), which the Spartans and Hoosiers have played for since 1950. It all started when Gene McDermott, the junior class president of MSC (Michigan State College) at the time, went into a Lansing antique shop in 1950 to look for an award for the upcoming game. Once he bought the Spittoon (for around $25), he contacted the student council at IU to tell them about the trophy and have the winner of the impending contest win the Spittoon. The council telegrammed McDermott back accepting the challenge, and the two schools have played for it ever since.
The Spittoon is believed to be around 200 years old, and was apparently used by trappers near what is now East Lansing, MI during the early 1800's. MSU leads the series since 1950, 45-13-1 (counting IU's win in 2016).
Story (and interview with McDermott) courtesy of the Allentown (PA) Morning Call: http://articles.mcall.com/2012-10-04/sports/mc-michigan-state-spittoon-mcdermott-20121004_1_spittoon-spartans-football-coach-big-ten-network