Nickel Trophy

Posters of UND and NDSU football and a timeline showing games played as well as a display case with the Nickel Trophy

Relive the Nickel Trophy rivalry days between two state university football teams.

In a tradition stemming from 1938, the winner of the annual North Dakota State University and University of North Dakota football game earned the coveted Nickel Trophy. Games alternated between Fargo and Grand Forks. The teams played 65 Nickel Trophy games through 2003 when it was retired. NDSU won 39 of those games, with UND winning 26.

The coaches felt the impact of the school rivalry each year. “If you win the game, it’s good. But if you lose the game, it’s 364 days of hell,” said Rocky Hager, former NDSU head football coach.

“As a coach, I never wanted to lose the Nickel on my watch. This meant that not only did we need to win the Sioux-Bison game on Saturday, we also had to make sure the Nickel was safe from thieves every day,” added Dale Lennon, former UND head football coach. “Keeping it safe meant that the Nickel’s location constantly changed, including multiple hiding spots in [UND’s] Memorial Stadium, overnight visits with various members of the team, and my favorite hiding place — under my bed!”