School Traditions: The Fremont Cannon


Any great college football rivalry has two main requirements. One is that the two schools need to have a genuine hatred for one another and the other is they need to have something to play for; i.e. a rivalry trophy. The annual interstate game between UNLV and the University of Nevada has both and is known to students and fans as the “Battle for Nevada”.

History of the Rivalry

The Nevada Wolf Pack won the first-ever battle between the two schools 30-28 in 1969, but the now famous “Fremont Cannon” wasn’t introduced as the game’s rivalry trophy until the following year, when UNLV won 42-30, becoming the first team to capture the prize. The cannon has changed hands twelve times since then and currently belongs to Nevada, who has held it for seven consecutive years. Both teams have owned the trophy six times, but Nevada has gotten the better of UNLV overall, with a record of 22-15 in the Battle for Nevada.

History of the Cannon

Former UNLV coach Bill Ireland came up with the idea for the trophy in 1969, but why a cannon? The Fremont Cannon has regional significance and is steeped is history. The name is derived from American explorer John C. Fremont, who allegedly had a similar howitzer cannon that he left in a snowdrift in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on an expedition in 1843. The current trophy is still the same one that was built in 1970 and is a replica of Fremont’s cannon.

The Tradition

Besides being the heaviest and most expensive trophy of any college football rivalry game, the cannon is a symbol of pride amongst students and players and is a representation of athletic accomplishment. The winning team not only gets to take the cannon back to its campus, but also gets to paint the cannon with its school colors (UNLV-red), (Nevada-blue). Before 2000, the cannon was typically fired after each touchdown scored by the team in possession during the Battle for Nevada, but a UNLV celebration after winning the trophy that year resulted in the cannon being dropped and damaged and now it no longer fires.

Who Will Take Home the Cannon in 2012?

After winning the first shutout in the rivalry’s history last year 37-0, Nevada will look to defend the cannon for a seventh straight time at 2012’s edition of the Battle for Nevada on October 13. Nevada’s move to the Mountain West Conference this season also makes it the first season since 1995 in which the rivalry game is also a conference game, upping the significance dramatically. Sam Boyd Stadium will be the site of this year’s Battle for Nevada, as UNLV hopes to recapture not only the cannon, but the glory, honor and year-long bragging rights that come with a victory over your hated rival. There’s no rivalry quite like Nevada vs. UNLV, so don’t miss your chance to go to the game courtesy of with Nevada Wolf Pack vs. UNLV Rebels experiences and tickets packages.