The Bearcats and RedHawks (formerly the Redskins) square off each fall for the famed Victory Bell. The first game in the series, played on December 8, 1888 in Oxford, Ohio, was the first college football game played in the state of Ohio. The original bell hung in Miami's Harrison Hall (Old Main) near the site of the first game and was used to ring in Miami victories. The traveling trophy tradition began in the 1890s when some Cincinnati fans "borrowed" the bell. The bell went to the winner of the annual game for the next forty years until it mysteriously disappeared in the 1930s. The original bell reappeared in 1946 and was on display in the lobby of Miami's Murstein Alumni Center for years. The current trophy is a replica of the original bell and is kept in the possession of the winning team each year. One side of the bell is painted black with white numbers showing Cincinnati's victories, while the other side is white with red numbers showing Miami's victories. Ties are indicated on the top of the red yoke in white numbers.
The Miami–Cincinnati series ranks fifth on the list of most-played rivalries in college football and is the oldest Division I rivalry west of the Allegheny Mountains. After the 2010–2014 NCAA conference realignment led to the end of several historic rivalries, it is now the most-played currently active rivalry involving schools from the same state, and also holds the same distinction among inter-conference rivalries. Of the more than thirty college football rivalries that include at least 89 games, none is older than Miami vs. Cincinnati.