Beginning in 2017, football games between Ball State and Miami will take on a whole new meaning.

The schools, separated by about 73 miles, will make their contests a "Red Bird Rivalry" trophy game. The Cardinals and Redhawks will start playing every season starting next year, even though they reside in different divisions in the Mid-American Conference.

This will be only the second inter-division game that takes place every season, joining Bowling Green (MAC East) vs. Toledo (MAC West).

"The geographic proximity and athletic histories of the two schools make this rivalry game a natural," Ball State athletic director Mark Sandy said. "We look forward playing the RedHawks each season."

Trophy designs for the Red Bird Rivalry are still being discussed and will be announced later.

The Cardinals and RedHawks have met just eight times since 2000, and Miami holds a 16-12-1 advantage in the all-time series. Ball State, however, has won four of the last five.

This new, annual rivalry will give fans a chance to support their team on the road and the MAC a chance to better balance the schedule, said Miami athletic director David Sayler.

"Combined with the MAC committing to schedule this football game every year, Ball State's geographical location makes this an easy rivalry to support," he added.

Ball State travels to Miami for the final game of this season Nov. 22. Next year's meeting will take place in Muncie, where the first trophy will be awarded.