Big Ten Power Poll, American Holidays Edition

Let's be honest. Two of the easiest columns to write (and get feedback from your readers) are 1) the power rankings column and 2) the pop culture comparison column. Much like that magical day when somebody got their peanut butter on my chocolate (or did I get my chocolate in her peanut butter?), it was predestined that one day these two great columns would be brought together...

With Thanksgiving coming up on Thursday, the Holiday Season has officially arrived.  I love Thanksgiving, and I love Christmas.  I think it's safe to say that they are the 'Big Two' of the American holidays.  I know there are some folks out there that dread Thanksgiving, because for some of you it's one big, dysfunctional mess.  Grandpa rips into your dad for being a loser, Grandma thinks your Mom was never good enough for her baby boy, and some crazy uncle who's done a couple stints in prison finally has a weekend pass and is hanging around, creeping you the hell out.  Your sister is a pain in the ass and can do no wrong, while everyone thinks you're some pre-teen troglodyte that can't do anything right. 

Once the alcohol starts flowing, Grandpa and Dad almost come to blows, Grandma calls your Mom a bitch, and Uncle Convict keeps eyeing your sister in this really, really, REALLY weird way.  So you get the hell out of the dining room before punches fly and accusations hurl to go to the den and hang out with the one normal person in the family--the other uncle who's a big fan of football, tells funny jokes, and gives you a couple sips of beer without anyone knowing.  And about two hours from now, he's going to kick the hell out of Uncle Convict, because 'that dumb sumbitch has it coming to him for looking at your sister like that.'  To top it off, he was probably a helicopter pilot...or a lawyer.

Yeah, Thanksgiving is pretty cool.

Speaking of dysfunctional messes, on to our Power Poll!

1.  Wisconsin:  115 Points, (6 First Place Votes) Memorial Day

We mourn what could have been with Wisconsin.  Just as they were storming the BCS beach, two late Hail Mary bullets turned out to be fatal.

2.  Michigan State:  113 Points (4), Christmas

MSU woke up Sunday morning with the Legends Division trophy under their tree, when almost no one saw it coming.  It's deserved, because for the most part, Sparty has been very good this year.

3.  Penn State:  101 Points, Thanksgiving

Football cannot and will not erase what allegedly happened, but this is about a team and their great fans that had nothing to do with that, and they've put themselves in position to go to Indianapolis.  That's plenty to be thankful for.

4.  Michigan:  91 Points, New Year's Eve

Not officially a holiday, but WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!  It's time to celebrate and have a couple of drinks over a great season.  A (probable) 10-2 record is something to have a beer...or 12...over.  Michigan is back, with a vengeance.

5.  Nebraska:  77 Points, Labor Day

A day to cook out and celebrate the labor movement in a day and age where organized labor has been taking a beating.  Ironically, Nebraska did both in The Big House on Saturday.

6.  Iowa:  68 Points, Independence Day

You have just done your own thing all season, independent of conventional wisdom.  Lose to Iowa State and Minnesota, beat Michigan and Northwestern.  After some ugly losses, you're still going to a decent bowl.  Light some bottle rockets and enjoy the post season.

7.  Ohio State:  57 Points, Columbus Day

Probably the most forgettable holiday for this most forgettable of seasons for Ohio State.  Just announce the signing of Urban Meyer and we can forget that 2011 ever happened.  And beat Michigan.  Please.

8.  Northwestern:  52 Points, Black Friday

Not an official holiday, but sometimes it looks like the Dan Persa offense is the bum rush at Wal Mart at midnight--purple jerseys everywhere, heading towards the end zone.  It can be entertaining to watch, much like those midnight madness highlights are.

9.  Purdue:  44 Points, Veteran's Day

A holiday where we pay respect to ordinary people who did some extraordinary things.  When you're an Indiana win from being bowl eligible, after the way this season started, that's an extraordinary thing from what we assumed was a very ordinary, non bowl team.

10.  Illinois:  30 Points, New Year's Day

It's the big hangover day after New Year's Eve.  You're wrecked, your head hurts, and there's a good chance you don't remember much of what happened the night before.  And then you get up to go pee, and it burns.  Somewhere along the way, a great, memorable time went horribly, horribly wrong.  And all you want is aspirin and some hair of the dog while you try and piece together how it went off track.

11.  Minnesota:  22 Points, President's Day 

This used to be a big holiday, back in the 50's and 60's.  It's largely overlooked and forgotten now, much like Minnesota football, collegiate or professional, for that matter.

12.  Indiana:  10 Points, Super Bowl Sunday

It's not even a holiday, but more of a day where most people get together to watch teams they don't care about playing a game that most years is pretty non-competitive.  It's more about the food and booze.  Like Indiana football.

So MSU is in, and the winner of Penn State-Wisconsin will meet Sparty in Indianapolis for the inaugural B1G conference championship.  If Purdue beats Indiana, the B1G will have a ridiculous 10 teams bowl eligible, and we're 99.7% sure that there will be at least one coaching change.  I would think the Zooker might be in some trouble--7 wins and a bowl season isn't bad, but after a 6-0 start he might get Mason'd come season's end.  Pure speculation on my part, though.

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