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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...
I was really stumped this week. I went back and looked at some power polls from earlier in the season to see what some of the recommendations or suggestions were that I could use for inspiration. I considered the porn star one, but that was a slippery slope that just seemed fraught with danger, and a probable lifetime ban from SB Nation. I considered the video games recommendation, 1990's Nickelodeon programming, and a few others, but I wanted to find a program that kind of captured how I feel about the B1G this year.
HBO's wildly popular New Jersey mob series is one of my favorite all time shows, and represents, in many ways, the Big Ten. For one, it's set in New Jersey, the heart of Big Ten country (see what I did there?). Secondly, it's a series that reached the height of it's popularity in the early aughts, was really struggling to keep up by 2007, but as we get ready to turn towards 2013, it's still a brand that stands the test of time.
And just like B1G expansion, every now and then rumors hit the street of a movie, or a final wrap up season to keep interest. And although it won't last forever, watching Sopranos reruns from the early and mid 2000's is more entertaining than the current brand of B1G football. I hope you guys have enjoyed these power polls as much as I've enjoyed doing them this season.
1. Ohio State (8 First place votes), 96 points: Tony Soprano
You survived multiple assassination attempts, including a contract put out by your own mother, because that's how unliked you can be. Your over the top personality belies an insecurity so deep that it requires psychiatric care. How you ended the series left many fans wondering what happened and what could've been, much like OSU's undefeated, yet post-season ineligible post season.
2. Nebraska, 88 points: Christopher Moltisanti
You're the new hotshot mobster, you've got a temper that you have no problem using to brutally take out people, and you someday see yourself running the Soprano family. But your recreational heroin use, much like your recreational quarterback, gives you high highs and low lows. If you're not careful, that recreation might cause you to run your car into a ditch and kill yourself.
3. Michigan, 79 points: Sal 'Big Pussy' Bonpiensero
I have an opportunity to match up a heavyset dark haired guy with the nickname 'Big Pussy' to Michigan. You should've seen this coming from a mile away. Also, he was whacked by Tony and dumped into the ocean, never to be heard from again.
4. Penn State, 71 Points: Vito Spatafore
You were a good earner for the Soprano crew. But once your dark secret was discovered, you were shunned by the rest of the family and you became persona non grata. That said, you set up a nice life in exile for awhile. But eventually, the contract that got put out on you by the higher ups got you nothing more than your skull kicked in.
5. Northwestern, 68 points: Paulie Walnuts
You're a quality mobster that adds depth and character to the Soprano family. You're never going to be the boss or the head of the family, and that chapped your ass for awhile. But you came to terms with that and seem content with your role as the top earner in the Soprano family. Also, you wear killer suits.
6. Wisconsin, 59 points: Phil Leotardo
You can't stand Tony and he can't stand you, but you're really not rivals, either. You pretty much inherited the New York crime family after Johnny Sack got thrown in the can, much like Wisconsin inherited the Leaders division because OSU and Penn State are in NCAA jail. But you had a heart attack, probably from too much cheese and brats. Just sayin'...
7. Michigan State, 48 points: Silvio Dante
You've always wanted to run the family, and you've gotten all the way to strip club manager and consigliere. But when given an opportunity to take over when Tony was hurt and in a coma you tried to step into the big chair. And you had a nervous breakdown. No, you'll never run things, as much as you'd like to think you will.
8. Minnesota, 37 points: Bobby Bacala
You're a decent enough guy. You're pretty mild mannered for a mobster, though, and you're kind of a pushover. You've roughed up a few people in your day, but when the Sopranos go to war, unfortunately you're one of the first casualties.
9. Purdue, 34 points: Svetlana
You only have one leg. As a Russian national, American football is foreign to you. And you're used to cold weather, like Detroit in December, for example.
10. Indiana, 25 points: Artie Buco
Artie is a restaurant owner in a show about mobsters, much like Kevin Wilson is the coach of a football team at a basketball school. Artie has a few moments, and they try to develop his character, but at the end of the day, he's still not a mobster. Now, put him on a cooking show, and he's probably going to have the #1 ranked TV show.
11. Iowa, 15 Points: Uncle Junior
You used to be a top notch mobster, but as of late, you've really gone downhill. And it's puzzling. Do you just not care anymore, are you really going nuts, or do you just want us to think you are, and somehow, you're outsmarting us all and we just don't see it yet? If you walk onto Kinnick for the first game next year wearing nothing but a headset and underwear, we'll have our answer. I think.
12. Illinois, 9 Points: Ralph Cifaretto
You're uncouth, belligerent, run your mouth a lot and get your head put in a bowling bag on a weekly basis.
The Sopranos was arguably the most popular show HBO has ever produced. It ran from 1999-2007, and it can be seen on HBO proper, HBO Go, DVD, or a multitude of other platforms. All characters and images are property of Home Box Office, LLC.