photo of mourning doves

College athletics has its classic rivalries: USC and UCLA battling for the Pac-10 gridiron title; Duke and Carolina dueling for ACC hoops supremacy. But any such list is incomplete without the Big 10 clash between Indiana University and Purdue over the Old Minnow Bucket. Each April the bass fishing clubs at IU and Purdue compete head-to-head for this little green trophy. “Other tournaments might be fun, but they aren’t the Minnow Bucket,” says Kip Bolin, a Hoosier who is president of the IU Bass Fishing Club. “We want to win because it’s Purdue.”

Raccoon Lake near West Lafayette will be the site of this year’s tournament in which all anglers will have a five-fish limit, and the club with the heaviest bass load at the end of the day will take the Bucket home. Since the first tournament in 1993, the Boilermakers have dominated with eight victories, including the last two. “We never want to lose, but losing to IU is even worse,” says Purdue Bass Club president Bill Murray, a junior, who contributed 7 pounds of largemouths to his team’s 15-pound victory last year. “We have a good group this year, and we’re competing at our home lake, so we’ve got a solid shot at it.”

But this contest is just a little fish in the big pond of collegiate tournament fishing. Seven other schools–University of Illinois, University of Iowa, Ohio State, Northwestern, University of Wisconsin, University of Michigan, and Michigan State–compete for the conference title in the Big 10 Classic every fall.

If Purdue retains the Bucket, Murray expects plenty of celebrating. “We’ve never drunk beer out of the trophy before,” he says. But both teams will be battling for a chance to try. –COLIN KEARNS