Off Tackle Empire Big Ten Pre-Season Power Poll, Game Of Thrones Edition

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*All images via HBO.com

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...

First off, I reluctantly take the helm of this column from Bama Hawkeye, who's mixture of peanut butter and chocolate will be tough to replicate.  From puppies to presidents, Springsteen to the Federal Rules of Evidence, each week got better and better.

Well, that probably stops with this column, violently and forever.  At least until Jon, Graham, and Bama put me on a two year column ban and make me vacate all my columns from 2010, even the Sugar Bowl one.  I'll return the trophy, but I'm keeping the ring, although the SB Nation compliance department will keep it in a lockbox for me, with my name on it and everything.  

Secondly, the results of this poll are determined by the writers of this site.  We all rank the 12 conference teams top to bottom, and I add up the points.  Each first place vote gets 12 points, a 12th place vote gets one point, multiplied by each writer (9 currently, and we'll adjust as we add or subtract writers), giving us 108 total points for a consensus first place team.  After this poll is done, we'll post the power poll on Tuesday (tentatively, subject to change) during the season, all the way through the end of the bowl season.

But now for this week's post B1G 2011 series.  I don't know if you're a fan of HBO's newest series Game of Thrones.  If you're not, I'm sorry for you.  It's a series about the fictional kingdom of Westeros, and the subterfuge and politics around the most prominent families in it.  There are plots, subplots, intrigue, deception, and just when you think you know what's going to happen, all Hell breaks loose. 

In short, a typical B1G off-season.   

The pre-season poll, after the jump.*

*For those of you who have read all of the books, keep in mind this is based on the first season of the TV series only.  Any characters who morphed into something unexpected later on in the series doesn't apply here.

1.  Wisconsin 107 Points (8 First Place Votes)--Joffrey Baratheon 
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Young King Joffrey has been at the cusp of power his entire life, but still has to grow into the position.  When he doesn't follow the gameplan, it results in wailing and gnashing of teeth throughout the kingdom, but he is in the process of ruthlessly eliminating his main rivals to the throne.

2.  Nebraska 95 Points--Daenerys Targaryen

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Exiled in a hostile, foreign land, Daenerys wandered for years, looking for a way to get to her true home and claim her past glory for her and her family. She was very agreeable in the beginning of the season, but has found what she thinks is her destiny and is getting ready to take it. We'll see.

 3.  Ohio State 90 Points (1)--Lord Eddard Stark

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As the Hand of the King, Lord Stark might not have been liked by everyone, but was respected by all, and was the main character everyone orbited around.  He navigated the trickiest waters of the kingdom and came out on top, time after time, in a very workmanline and conservative fashion.  However, he made a particularly critical error in judgement, and it cost him his head.  Literally.

4.  Michigan State 79 Points-- Khal Drogo

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Early on in the season, Khal Drogo seemed fierce and a serious threat to the current ruling families of Westeros.  But it turns out he was nothing more than a paper tiger, and at the end of the season he was a catatonic, lifeless, vegetable.

5.  (tie)  Iowa 63 Points--Lady Catelyn Stark

 Lady_catelyn_stark_medium

Lady Stark is a survivor, with a stiff spine and an iron resolve.  Undeterred by early and late season setbacks, she shook it off and is on a roll.  Don't underestimate Lady Stark, especially when her back is against the wall.  Or the next thing you know, she's taking an army of 20,000 and marching on you.

5.  (tie)  Penn State 63 Points--Lord Commander Mormont

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As Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, he has a responsibility to guard the Northern Wall in the hinterlands of Westeros. Back in the day, he was a bad ass but as the years have gone by, he's slipped. He is still well respected, and has a couple of big moments left in him, but you get the feeling if the White Walkers storm the Wall, you take the Walkers and the points.

7.  (tie)  Illinois 53 Points--Jon Snow

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Jon Snow seems like a genuinely good guy, but does some irrational, inexplicable things.  Like become a deserter after he's taken the Black, when he knows the penalty for that is death. But then, he does something amazing, like return to the Wall and kill two zombie-like dead guys when it looks like he was way overmatched. Tough guy to figure out.

7.  (tie) Northwestern 53 Points--Tyrion Lannister

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Tyrion is your typical rich kid that comes from money--drunken, boorish ass with an insufferable sense of entitlement wrapped in some serious daddy issues.  But he also happens to be the smartest guy in the room, and is mentally two steps ahead of everyone else. But being a dwarf means that no matter how smart he is, ultimately he can't compete physically, but he's damn entertaining to watch.

9.  Michigan 40 Points--Robert Baratheon

 Robert_baratheon_medium

Man, in his prime Robert Baratheon kicked ass, took names, and did two...or more...chicks at the same time while doing it.  But sadly, he is now a king in name only, living in the past and bitter that his glory years have passed him by.  But he talks about them to anyone who will listen, and still loudly declares he's the king, even after he was gored by a pig.

10.  Minnesota 24 Points--Viserys Targaryen

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Many years ago, the Targaryen family ruled Westeros, but their reign ended long ago, forcing what was left of the Targaryens to flee into obscurity across the Narrow Sea. Although Viserys thinks he'll be king again, no one else does, and he is eventually picked on first by his sister, then by the Khal. He's a big fan of gold.

11.  Purdue 23 Points--Bran Stark

 Bran_stark_medium

Sadly, Bran suffered a terrible injury at the beginning of the season and lost the use of both legs (and knees).  Before the injury, he did show a lot of potential, and had a promising future ahead of him.  But, yeah.  Poor Bran.

/sobs, tears ACL

12.  Indiana 12 Points--Theon Greyjoy

 Theon_greyjoy_medium

Greyjoy seems like a luckless person, having been forced into what is essentially indentured servitude after his family foolishly tried to revolt and take over the throne.  It was a plan that was doomed to fail from the beginning, as they were terribly over matched and never really had a chance at success.  You get the feeling that Theon will never be more than anything the rest of the prominent families will let him be, and nothing more than a lapdog for the big boys.

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