LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The tradition began shortly after Arkansas joined the Southeastern Conference. The Razorbacks were facing different teams -- and both the school and its fans needed to adjust.
"We were trying to develop some rivalries," athletic director Frank Broyles recalled recently. "We've had the rivalry with Texas and other schools in the Southwest Conference, and so we were trying to get some additional fodder for the fans."
That effort led to the creation of the Golden Boot, a 24-karat trophy shaped like a map of Arkansas and Louisiana. The Razorbacks will play LSU for it again Friday -- 10 years after it was introduced to this century-old series.
Trophies are nothing new to college football. Michigan and Minnesota play for the Little Brown Jug. Wisconsin and Minnesota fight to keep Paul Bunyan's Axe.
Such symbols of victory are a little less common in the South, though.
"If you look at the north and midwest, you see a lot more of these trophy games that have been around a long, long time," said David Bazzel, who played at Arkansas during the 1980s and helped launch the Golden Boot idea before the 1996 game.
"We're sort of late arriving on that."
Arkansas first played LSU in 1901, but the series took on obvious importance when the Razorbacks entered the SEC before the 1992 season. Since then, Arkansas has always faced the Tigers in its regular-season finale, sometimes with the SEC West title at stake.
That -- and the fact the states share a border -- made the series a good fit for an annual trophy. Also, while other SEC West schools such as Alabama and Auburn and Mississippi and Mississippi State have their in-state rivalries, LSU has always been a bit separate.
The Golden Boot itself is about 4 feet by 2 feet, and it's distinctive because of its cost (around $10,000) and its weight (around 200 pounds). Just carrying it off the field can be a chore for the winning team.
Lately, that's been LSU's job. The Tigers have won three straight over Arkansas, including 19-17 last year. They lead the series 7-3 since the trophy was introduced. The No. 5 Razorbacks will try to reclaim it this week against No. 9 LSU at Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium.
Although the rivalry hasn't completely caught on, the series is a significant one. Arkansas has already clinched the SEC West, marking the fifth time in six years the Razorbacks or Tigers have made it to the conference title game.
In 2001, Arkansas had won six straight before facing LSU. The Tigers won 41-38 at home, beat Auburn the following week, then defeated Tennessee for the SEC championship.