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...
Welcome back everybody. Looks like we finally made it. Football is back and that means one thing... Well, no, actually it means like a whole bunch of things as you have most definitely noticed we've amped up the content this week. But seriously, one thing I am very excited about is the debut of the 2013 OTE B1G Power Poll. If you aren't sure how this works, I ask the OTE writers to rank the teams, we compile those ranking and compare things. I mean, this isn't rocket surgery people.
(MNWildcat note: I updated the Power Poll to include first place votes and total points. Points were assigned so that a higher score is better: a 1 ranking = 12, 2 ranking = 11, and so on down... Enjoy?)
With that in mind, I wanted to kick things off right (and note, this voting was done prior to Thursday night's games). Anyhow, what better vehicle for the B1G in 2013 than the Beastie Boys? Wait, what? No, seriously, I was listening through their catalog the other day and thought, "You know what? The Beastie Boys are awesome. Just like the Big Ten."* And so there you have it. I'm excited for the year. I'm excited for ridiculous Power Polls. And I'm just plain excited that football is on so I can actively, you know, not watch football.
*I really didn't think this. I just have an unhealthy love of hip-hop and the Beastie Boys. Look out for my Wu-Tang edition... maybe... probably?
1. Ohio State (12 votes, 144 points) - Sure Shot
Cause you can't, you won't, and you don't stop
Cause you can't, you won't, and you don't stop
Well, you can't, you won't, and you don't stop
Keep on and rockin' the sure shot
In our writers poll, Ohio State blew the other teams out of the water. Right now, there is no more complete a team with as much actual good vibes as the Buckeyes. Coming off of Year 1 in the Urban Meyer system, a year in which Ohio State went undefeated, there is justifiable excitement and hype about what could happen. An incredibly manageable schedule plus an offense that should be among the best in the nation and we have the makings for a special run. Are they a sure shot? Well, maybe not yet, but they are the closest thing we have to that at the moment.
2. Nebraska (118 pts) - Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win
Now you wanna get back when you had your shine
But you run the same thing every time when you rhyme
Last year, Nebraska made it back to the Conference Championship Game on the backs of some crazy comebacks, maybe lucky bounces, and gritty determination that you like in a Championship team. It then got the tar beaten out of it repeatedly in the CCG against a good, not great, Wisconsin team that definitely seemed to provide a knockout punch to the psyche of the Cornhuskers. So why the love going into this season?
Well, look at it this way, the schedule is ridiculously soft and so long as the defense is marginally serviceable, there will not be a game on this schedule where Nebraska is not at least in it. It helps, of course, that they will be led by one of the deepest skill groups in the nation. Questions obviously remain - and there is definitely danger around every corner for this roller coaster of a team - but the hype seems justified right now. It's worth noting that from here to about seven, the differences seem to be pretty small right now.
3. Michigan (112) - The New Style
And on the cool check in
Center stage on the mic
And we're puttin' it on wax
It's the new style
The Shoelace era is finally over. After Al Borges worked hard to try and find ways to use the electric Denard Robinson last year, reality began to set in. The best asset on his team was probably a guy who was playing WR to start the year - Devin Gardner. Fast forward a year and we have a new, pro-style offense getting set into place to complement a pretty good defense in Ann Arbor. Will this new offense marry well? Honestly, the answer to this will go a long way in determining whether Michigan can finish the year on top of the division or at a mediocre bowl wondering what went wrong.
4. Northwestern (110) - Intergalactic
If you try to knock, me you'll get mocked
I'll stir fry you in my wok
Your knees'll start shaking and your fingers pop
Like a pinch on the neck from Mr. Spock
Northwestern is in a position to make a run, except their schedule is brutal. With offensive weapons galore - including probably the most electric all-purpose player in the conference in Venric Mark - Northwestern is not an easy out for anyone. Can they play spoiler early in the year and knock off Ohio State in what will be the most hyped home game for Northwestern in recent history -or- will their defense not step up to the occasion?
Of the top four teams in this preseason poll, Northwestern is probably the most interesting to me. They could end up being a better team than either of Michigan or Nebraska, but due to schedules and various breaks of the game, finish far below both of them. All I know is that there is some significant hype coming out of Evanston. It's time for the Wildcats to live up to it for a change.
5. Wisconsin (100) - Fight For Your Right (To Party)
I mean, was Wisconsin going to be any other Beastie Boys song? It fits their personality, it fits their upcoming season, and it's probably the best tribute one could come up with for the once-great Broliema. I'm gonna miss that guy.
But seriously, the Badgers are an interesting case. They are the three time Rose Bowl representative, technical Big Ten reigning Champion, and return some pretty devastatingly good offensive weapons. Of course, they also have a brand new coach and weren't exactly world beaters at times last year. Similar to the previous three teams on this list, it's kind of all relative where we slate them in the preseason. Wisconsin probably deserves more respect than this considering the run of success they have had, but it will be their job to force the attention back on themselves.
6. Michigan State (95) - Somethings Got to Give
I've seen better nights than this one
Tension is rebuilding
Something's got to give
Something's got to give
Michigan State was a darkhorse pick last year for BCS buster. That ended way less wonderful in the end thanks to what can only be described as an atrocious offensive effort. Sadly, that's a really big shame considering just how good that defense really was last year, and scary enough, that defense could be just as good if not better this year. So why are they sitting here at sixth? Well, there isn't necessarily a lot of good vibes for this offense changing its way yet.
Now, I do not think Dantonio's head should be on the chopping block considering the ridiculously positive effect he has had in East Lansing, but every year where they waste chances, his seat will feel a little bit warmer. This is starting to feel like a really important year in the future of MSU football. Win and things go back to the status quo. Lose due to not having an offense again? Things get a bit dicey. This is now the fourth team from the West division on this list. I have a feeling this year is going to be crazy in conference play.
7. Penn State (76) - Sabotage
So, so, so, so listen up, cause you can't say nothin'
You'll shut me down with a push of your button
But, yo, I'm out and I'm gone
I'll tell you now, I keep it on and on
Cause what you see, you might not get
And we can bet, so don't you get souped yet
Scheming on a thing, that's a mirage
I'm trying to tell you now, it's sabotage
First off, Bill O'Brien can coach. We learned that even despite the most insane set of events that could hit a school - and arguably one of the more tragic - BOB was a guy who could keep the ship sailing straight. In what started a bit tenuously, he made 2012 a success and won COY for the conference. So what will his encore be? Teaching his QB magic to a new set of quarterbacks and trying to show that even with the restrictions he has to work with, Penn State is here to stay. A reasonable schedule and some talent still left on both sides of the ball seems to work in the Lions favor. The key for this season, however, is stay healthy. I'm guessing things start to get dicey on the depth charts from here on out.
8. Minnesota (54) - Ch-Check It Out
When I think I'm too good, they put me in check
So believe when I say I'm no better than you
Okay, this track is a bit of a stretch, but this line really does make me think of the Gophers. There is a lot of excitement in Minneapolis over where Coach Jerry Kill can take this young team. Similar to some others we've discussed, however, the record might regress just due to the competition around them. Sure, the Golden Gophers are better than they were a year ago, and lightyears ahead of where they were two years ago, but at the same time, is that enough to compete in a stacked division? They won't be favored too much, but this is a team that can upset anyone not paying attention. Also worth noting, I loved this Beastie track. Absolutely loved it. The David Letterman performance was probably my favorite night show performance of all time.
9. Indiana (48) - Make Some Noise
You gotta make some noise if you're livin'
This year is Indiana's year to do something they haven't done very often - go bowling. Last year, they were - at one point - a win away from the inside track to the Big Ten Conference Championship. Kevin Wilson has an amazing offense put together in Bloomington, and so long as they have a semblance of defense, this is a team that could make some noise in the Big Ten. Heck, they gave a big enough scare to Ohio State last year to prove they can score on anyone.
Of course, they are also still ninth in our poll. The defense that has hampered this team will really need to step up to get the Hoosiers bowling, and they will need to have an excellent non-con run. Still, when was the last time that Indiana football got this much hype? Between this and last night's offensive explosion, Indiana is a team to keep an eye on.
10. Iowa (34) - Right Right Now Now
Right-Right-Now-Now; What is going on?
We-We-Gotta-Gotta; Get it goin' on
Be-Be-Fore-Fore; It's too far gone
We gotta work together it's been too long
Last year sucked for Iowa. There aren't a lot of ways to put it. A new offensive identity led by the Greg Davis Horizontal Experience, was a dumpster fire beyond what anyone could imagine. Almost every aspect of this team regressed and has put significant pressure on Kirk Ferentz to make changes and adapt to the new identity of his surroundings. Lucky for Hawkeye fans, it seems to be that Ferentz thrives on doing just that.
As we enter 2013, Iowa has an immediate test - NIU. A team coming off of an Orange Bowl
victory appearance, and really, a team that will show whether Iowa measures up early or not. Win and things look up for this young team. Lose and the murmuring gets pretty loud in Iowa City. This really does seem like the beginning of the end for Ferentz - one way or another.
11. Purdue (29) - Alive
Dip dip dive so socialize
Open up your ears and clean out your eyes
If you learn to love, you're in for a surprise
It could be nice to be alive
So Purdue has survived the Hope era. While most of us can agree that he was not the longterm future for the Boilermakers, we can also agree that it's just as difficult to predict the future. Purdue seems to have made a home run of a hire in Coach Hazell and his passion has motivated the fanbase again. Can he keep that momentum alive and do something with it?
On a huge upside, Purdue will not be starting three quarterbacks and randomly choosing who plays when, so that's a plus. This could be one of those transition years that looks ugly up front in West Lafayette, but stick with it and Hazell could take Purdue further than Hope was going to. It's a weird place to be, but with some patience, good things could be on their way.
12. Illinois (16) - I Don't Know
I don't know
Who does know?
There is no
Where to go
This was a beautiful MCA song (RIP). This also aptly describes the Illini at this point. Tim Beckman has been looking inept since he got here, and while there is plenty of time to turn this thing around, it feels like Illinois could be in for another rough year. On an upside for Illini fans, Cubit - via Western Michigan - is here to save the offense and there seems to be some talent coming to Champaign. I honestly don't know if Illinois can surprise anyone this season, but hey, stranger things have happened.