When Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1993, the Nittany Lions and Spartans were designated as permanent rivals, and met each other for the trophy in the last week of conference play. The trophy, designed by former Michigan State coach George Perles, features pictures of Penn State's Old Main and Michigan State's Beaumont Tower. The series is tied 14–14–1.
With the addition of Nebraska to the Big Ten in 2011, Michigan State and Penn State moved into different divisions and were no longer designated as rivals, meaning they no longer played each other annually. Instead, Indiana and Nebraska were designated as Michigan State and Penn State's permanent rivals, respectively. Under this setup, Penn State and Michigan State would compete on average four out of every ten years.
In April 2013, the Big Ten announced the conference would realign into two geographically-based divisions and scrap the "Legends" and "Leaders" designations when Maryland and Rutgers join in 2014. Michigan State and Penn State are both in the Eastern division under the plan, and thus would resume a yearly series. It will, as before, be played on the final weekend of the regular season, the week before the Big Ten Championship Game.
Michigan State University followed by Penn State University are the nation's oldest land-grant universities, hence the name for the trophy. In 1955 on the 100th year anniversary of the founding of the land grant system, Michigan State and Penn State were commemorated on a U.S. postage stamp honoring the "First of the Land-Grant Colleges". These two universities were the first ever universities to be placed on a U.S. postage stamp.
They are the 4th and 5th most recently joined members of the Big Ten, after Nebraska, who joined in 2011, Maryland and Rutgers, who both joined in 2014. Fellow Big Ten members Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio State, Purdue and Wisconsin are also land-grant schools.