Coming in to today's game, the wagon wheel resided with Kent State on the basis of the Golden Flashesâ€™ 35-3 win at Akron last season.
That Nov. 12, 2011, game was also Kent State head football coach Darrell Hazellâ€™s introduction to the Zips rivalry and the trophy the schools have vied for since 1946. Kent State holds a 21-19-1 lead in the series.
â€œAny time you get into a rivalry game, all of the records are thrown out,â€ Hazell said. â€œItâ€™s a game of will. At the end, it is a game of execution. I know Akron will be well prepared for this contest.â€
Having a tangible prize at stake only adds to the excitement when Kent State meets Akron. As the most accepted legend has it, the wheel came off of a wagon owned by John R. Buchtel when it was stuck in the mud during a search for the site of a new college in the spring of 1870. While the incident took place near what is now Kent State University, Buchtel settled on a site in Akron. Buchtel College eventually became the University of Akron.
So there is some shared history behind the wagon wheel, which was unearthed in 1902, â€œand weâ€™ll talk about that quite a bit this week,â€ Hazell said. "Keeping that wagon wheel is huge for us. Our players put everything into that rivalry game because they understand winning means that, for the next 365 days, they can walk around with some pride knowing they kept the wagon wheel in Kent.â€
Records meant nothing Saturday when archrivals Kent State and Akron battled for the coveted
Wagon Wheel. The Golden Flashes had just come off their first win over a ranked opponent in 23 program tries, with a 35-23 victory at Rutgers, who was No. 15 in last week's BCS standings. Kent State came into this game with six straight wins in a season for the first time since 1940 and have matched the (Don) James Gang's 7-1 start in 1973. The Flashes were looking to beat the Zips in three straight seasons for the first time since 1952-54 -- and they did so.