As part of the new tradition, a traveling “Bridger Rifle” will be awarded to the winner each year. The rifle is a .50-caliber Rocky Mountain Hawken rifle that was popular among mountain men of the 1800s, and is widely considered to be the rifle carried by the legendary Jim Bridger.
“Bridger’s Battle” was chosen as the name for the new series due to Bridger’s ties to the Wyoming-Utah region.
Born in 1804, Bridger was the foremost mountain man in the history of the American West. He was one of the first white explorers to set foot in what is now Yellowstone National Park, documenting the natural wonders of what would become the nation’s first national park and establishing the first fur trading post in the area.
While leading the Stansbury expedition in 1849, Bridger came across the Great Salt Lake, and also helped construct a route that would one day become part of the Transcontinental Railroad. Bridger spent a majority of his life in the Rocky Mountain region, primarily in the areas that would become the states of Wyoming and Utah.
Beginning with this coming Saturday’s game, the score from each year’s contest will be recorded on the maple stock of the new “Bridger Rifle.”
“The history of this series goes back over a century, and we felt that with Utah State joining the Mountain West this season it was a perfect time to establish a new tradition in association with this rivalry,” said University of Wyoming Athletics Director Tom Burman. “As border states, it is a natural rivalry for both the fans of Utah State and Wyoming. We look forward to the annual renewal of this series now that both schools are members of the Mountain West.”
“Rivalry games are always special to fans and to the players and coaches who participate in them,” said Wyoming head football coach Dave Christensen. “While this rivalry is one that is new to our current players and coaching staff, it is one that has a great deal of meaning to many of our fans and former players through the years. We are proud to be a part of renewing this rivalry.”
Wyoming and Utah State first played in 1903, and this year’s meeting will be the 64th in the series. Wyoming has won 24 of the previous 63 meetings, while Utah State has won 35 times and there have been four ties. The two teams most recent meeting came in 2011 in Logan, Utah.
This year’s meeting will begin a new rivalry as conference opponents in the Mountain West, and is the first meeting as conference opponents since 1961. The two schools were members of the Skyline Conference from 1938-61.
This Saturday’s game is scheduled to kick off at noon from Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium in Logan and will be televised live by ROOT Sports.