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B1G Love 2017: A Valentine’s Day Salute

At a loss for how to show the Big Ten enthusiast in your life some love this Valentine’s Day? Fear not, for OTE is here to help.


Last year’s edition of B1G Love proved so helpful to clueless Romeos (and Juliets) stuck in blessed with relationships with Big Ten fans, that we’ve brought the feature back this year. Read on for everything you need to romance your B1G sweetie, from cards to sweets to perfect dates.

(Like the candy hearts? Have a better idea? Head here to make your own and share them in the comments!)

As for the order, this is the final rank from our post-bowl game power poll voting. Someone (uh, me) never got that power poll out, so feel free to argue these rankings if you’d like (that’s your cue, PSU fans!)

This special valentine describes at least half of the Big Ten, so consider this one especially for most of you.

Ohio State

Happy New Year’s indeed!

As I menti0ned last year, and as I maintain this year, if y0u’re still dating an 0SU fan, y0u sh0uld really re-evaluate y0ur life ch0ices. Y0u d0n’t need that kind 0f c0ndescensi0n in y0ur life—watch y0urself s0me 0ld 0prah epis0des and self-help y0ur way 0ut 0f that relati0nship. I say this t0 y0u in l0ve. (L0ve, by the way, is in s0me sp0rts a term for "zer0," aka, the am0unt 0f p0ints 0SU sc0red in its play0ff game. Ahahahahahahahahahaha.)

H0wever, if y0u remain 0bstinate, here is everything y0u need t0 sh0w y0ur Buckeye that y0u l0ve them, in spite 0f the things they ch00se t0 be.

The perfect date: Re-watch this year’s edition of "The Game" and don’t forget the viewing of Khakiface’s post-game press conference. Avoid Mexican food for dinner, as anything construed as a "fiesta" is likely to be ill-received at this time.

The card:

Penn State

What might have been...

In a year defined by delusions of grandeur and belief in the validity of "alternative facts," Penn State fans still managed to make a name for themselves in this arena. After beating the Ohio State Buckeyes by the most points of any team ever*, acolytes of James Franklion could not contain their enthusiasm as they persistently bleated about the impending greatness of their incipient thousand-year reign. Their path to renewed greatness would not, and could not be stopped (Michigan and Pitt are really, really good, you guys, and therefore, those losses meant nothing. Haters!) Annoyingly and frighteningly, they were almost right, thanks to Rutgers putting up no fight whatsoever. (#ThanksRutgers) Though the Nittany Lions obviously deserved a swift trip to the highest office in the land playoffs instead of the loser Buckeyes, they instead found themselves in some crappy old Rose Bowl, where the rest of us were treated to a thoroughly entertaining thousand-year game, and where PSU fans learned the pitfalls of power without any kind of over-arching gameplan. #YOLO

Anyway, all this to say that your PSU Valentine is a little crazy, and you should probably tread kind of carefully.

*Supposed "proofs" contrary to this claim are obviously fake news. Probably from CNN.

The perfect date: Pat them on the head, tell them they’re the best, and that their hands are the biggest you’ve ever seen. Do NOT give them roses.

The card:


Not a turnoff for every Valentine, I suppose.

Like the slowly wilting rose in Beauty and the Beast, 2016 found the bloom gradually wearing off of ol’ Jimmy H. Starting the season at #5 in national polls solely on the basis of unwavering belief that that’s where Michigan belongs, your Michigan (Wo)Man was no doubt flying high at the prospect of returning greatness and resounding defeats of Ohio State. The human weirdsmobile in khakis appeared to be everything promised, and you no doubt had many a date night made tedious by unending regalement of Great Wins over the likes of Hawaii and Rutgers. In fact, many of your date nights were courtesy of some deeply discounted Ruth’s Chris steaks (#thanksRutgers). But eventually, your relationship with your Wolverine encountered that greatest of trials—a loss to Iowa. If you’re still trying to cheer them up from that debacle (plus narrowly losing to OSU and Florida, both in dramatic fashion), be sure to give them this card.

The perfect date: Honestly, it’s pretty hard to top 50%-off steaks. Instead, I wouldn’t even try. Enjoy a tall glass of milk together, and go over the list of ways in which you "bitterly disappoint" each other. End by re-watching the Fiesta Bowl and talking unceasingly about how much you hate Ohio State.

The card:


Hey there, Gaglianone. Hi boo.

Hey there, Gaglianone. Hi boo.

Hey, hey, hey, lookie here! A team that actually won their bowl game, the first on this list! Your Badger valentine is probably feeling pretty happy, partially due to a fairly successful football season and a thus-far successful basketball season, and partially due to cheese curds and beer.

The perfect date: If this were a realistic list, I’d probably say beer and a basketball game—and let’s be honest, that sounds like a pretty solid evening, right? But if you’re looking to up your game for V-day, how about "hillbelly" tobogganing? Grab yourself a big piece of cardboard, find a snowy hill, use that beer-and-cheese gut for ballast, and rocket yourself down that Sconnie mountain. Feel the romance.

The card:


It’s all we ever wanted. Really.

The Huskers started football season with low expectations, briefly but spectacularly exceeded them, then finished the season with low expectations, and met them. That seems about right. In fact, instead of the much-reviled "Nebraska Nice" motto the state tourism board has attempted to foist upon the good people of the Good Life (your Nebraskan valentine will still be upset about this, like all good Nebraskans), "Nebraska: Politely Meeting Moderate Expectations" would have been a better choice for a motto. Unless it’s an internet poll about something Nebraska-related—we really bring the effort for those. Speaking of which...

The perfect date: Cuddle up together with the lights turned low, in front of a roaring fireplace if you can swing it. Wine, of course, and some amorous music to set the tone. Then, get out your tablet. Go from online poll to online poll, voting as many times as you can rig it. So hawt. He’ll love you forever.

The card:


It really shouldn’t. Don’t rape people. It’s not difficult. A friendly Valentine’s reminder.

Honestly, I’m still pissed off that such gross things went on with Minnesota’s football team, and it ended up being a net benefit to the football program with the hiring of El Capitan Fleck. Anyway, stumbling into more than they deserve was kind of the theme of Minnesota’s football season. After quitting the bowl game to "make the world a better place," and then reneging on that decision because they realized that going to California in December might be nicer than remaining in Minnesota, the Golden Gophers, led by Loudmouth Leidner, defeated Loudmouth Leach and Washington State. But anyway, none of that is your valentine’s fault, so here is a nice card for them anyway.

The perfect date: Like you have to ask! Rent a little rowboat for the two of you and make a date of it out on the water. It being February and Minnesota, this may prove difficult and unpleasant, but as you and/or she are probably descended from vikings, I believe you can make a go of it.

The card:


Get excited, MNWildcat!!!

Football-wise, Northwestern put together the kind of season Northwestern usually puts together: an odd mish-mash of weird losses (9-7 to Illinois State) and weird wins, that winds up finishing in a sort of respectable mediocrity. But that’s not what your nerdy valentine is thinking about this year! No, this year your valentine is head-over-heels nuts—because IT’S THE YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!! Barring a total meltdown for the rest of the regular season which would not be hilarious at all, it really is THE YEAR for Northwestern basketball. They’re going to the Big Dance—or at least, to the play-in for the Big Dance, where they’ll have the chance to come even more tantalizingly close to the tournament before blowing it than they ever have before. If they miss out, be prepared to take your Wildcat to a Big Dance to cheer them up—try a country swing dance, and tell them it’s an ethnographic study. Northwestern people love crap like that.

The perfect date: Your Northwestern Valentine probably believes him or herself firmly above tacky commercial crap embraced by the masses like Valentine’s Day. In order to prove to you how much they DO NOT care and how far above it they are, you’d better strap yourself in, because this date is going to reach maximum pretentious. We’re talking modern art museums, experimental eateries, purchasing equipment to roast one’s own coffee beans, perhaps installing a backyard chicken coop so you can have free-range eggs. Have fun!

The card:


Some girls just are, Indiana.

On the one hand, Indiana got everything it wanted for Christmas 2015, which was "a working defense." Hooray! On the other hand, I guess they forgot to specify to Santa that they also wanted to retain a working offense. Whoops. As a result, Indiana had a highly unexpected season, in that their defense gave other teams fits, while the offense frequently failed to score. Indiana did score when Kevin Wilson made a surprise "resignation," holding onto the bringer of the defense as their new HC (Tom Allen, not Santa. Come on! Purdue: "Hey, do you think Santa would coach for us?" No Purdue. I don’t.)

The perfect date: Your Hoosier Honey’s got a pretty nice, if standard Valentine’s date planned out. Nice dinner, movie you both wanted to see. Hey, you don’t need fancy, you’re from Indiana. Here’s what happens instead: you drive downtown. Lo and behold, there’s street parking right in front of the restaurant! But someone flips a quick u-ie and grabs the spot right in front of you, forcing you into the parking garage two miles away. By the time you get to the restaurant, you see them seating another couple. "I’m sorry," says the hostess, "but since you were so late, we just gave that couple your table. And we’re booked the rest of the night." Since everywhere else is likely to be just as booked, you settle for a pair of Lunchables from the gas station as you walk to the movie theatre. Alas, you find this packed as well, and you’ve ordered the wrong tickets—and now you’re going to see Trolls: Singalong. Happy Valentine’s Day!

The card:


Never forget.

This football season was more Iowan than a tenderloin (side note: an excellent gift if you are, for some reason, romantically involved with an Iowegian). If there was an Iowa football bingo, you’d have hit it this season. Consider the following:

  • Excessive hype around Iowa State game, while insisting vehemently that no one cares about Iowa State. CHECK
  • Kirk Ferentz yearly contract extension for beating ISU. CHECK
  • Hilariously embarrassing loss right after extension. CHECK
  • Shocking win too late in the season to do much except make everyone wonder where the hell that was all season. CHECK
  • Beating Nebraska for no reason and getting fanbase’s hopes sky-high for post-season. CHECK
  • Crashing and burning in spectacular fashion in bowl game. CHECK

Never fear, everyone. 2016 has in many ways brought us into a strange and unsettling new world, but even in the midst of upheaval, some things never change. One of those things is Iowa. Death, taxes, and Iowa.

The perfect date: If you’re Kirk Ferentz, the toughest part of Valentine’s Day is choosing which fancy lake house you’d like to spend the evening at. If you’re any other Iowa fan, however, this option may be unavailable to you, multi-million dollar, billion-year contracts not being a normal perk for most jobs. In this case, you’ll be headed to ice skating at the Coral Ridge mall, where you can take some selfies with the Herky statue and, if the evening goes well, saddle up for a whirl on the carousel. Whee! They ought to call Iowa "the Good Life."

The card:


Sure Maryland.

Football was bad, but not the worst, and basketball is pretty good, if not the best. All-in-all, it’s not a terrible time to be Maryland. I mean, at least no one is "joking" incessantly about how to get you out of the conference, right? One thing you’ll want to work on though... that whole "losing to Boston College in a bowl game" thing. That was really bad, Terps. Don’t do that again, or we’re going to move you to New Jersey and burn the whole place down. And your little Valentine too.

The perfect date: Huffing Old Bay together? Going to one of those "paint your own ceramics" places and creating eye-searing keepsakes together? I don’t know, Maryland. I never know what to do with you. You’re on your own.

The card:

Michigan State

Not sure if it’s as motivational this way.

Remember a few years ago, when MSU had an all-galaxy defense? Or remember last year when MSU made the playoffs in football? Something... happened. There was the shutout to Alabama in said playoffs. There was losing in the first round of the NCAA tournament to a Middle Tennessee State. The wheels didn’t just fall off of MSU athletics this year (volleyball excepted, who had a nice season), they flew off, all four at once, in spectacularly disastrous fashion. Some have speculated that Mark Dantonio may have sold his soul for temporary success, and the devil is now cashing in. However, I have a different theory, and it involves voodoo and Jim Harbaugh. Come on... you can’t tell me you can’t see that happening, can you? Let’s just hope he didn’t do any curses on your love lives while he was at it.

The perfect date: Well, it’s sure as heck not watching any MSU sporting events this year, is it? Since Nebraska has joined the Big Ten and I’ve been aware of MSU (and the sport of basketball), the Spartans have been good at basketball, football, or both. I’m not really sure what they do when they’re bad at both. I suspect your MSU valentine doesn’t know what to do either. It’s a brave new non-sports world out there, Spartan fans. Maybe you can have a romantic weenie roast at one of the many couches likely burning around town?

The card:


It makes me so sad to look at you and write about you, Illinois. You are the Lindsay Lohan of the Big Ten.

If you have an Illini honey, you don’t need me to tell you how Illinois athletics have fared this year. The uncontrollable weeping and screaming out in the night have told you the tale time after time. You have all of our condolences, truly. Football brought that mark of ignominy, a loss to Purdue (shameshameshame.gif). Basketball, usually a beacon of some competence after football season, is... not that this year. Even volleyball, a solid program with a strong following of late, lost its head coach to super sexy Stanford. So what’s an Illini fan to do? Well... weep a lot, probably. Happy Valentine’s Day!

The perfect date: Take-out Chinese and Netflix. No chill.

The card:


Aw, see Scarlet Knights? Someone loves you.

So, Purdue was terrible at football again this year. But. A few good things happened related to that—you won a conference football game (haha, Illinois), and you ditched DarreLLLLL HazeLLLLL. Sometimes, your quarterback even made some football-ish plays, so all things considered, it could have been worse (Fun Fact: Purdue’s official university motto is "It Could Have Been Worse" in Latin). Your basketball team is skilled and huge, and that pleases the ladies. If you can make a deep run next month, you’ll have a lot of satisfied customers. (This is a big if, however. You’re still Purdue.)

The perfect date: Oh Purdue. You don’t have a Valentine’s date, God bless ya. Have fun playing Overwatch alone.

The card:


Alas, we cannot.

You know, in a way, Rutgers is the most encouraging love story out there. They are putrid at football. They are very bad at basketball. They are horrific at volleyball. They are, to put it simply, the absolute worst at every sport the Big Ten cares about. And yet... there are those who love them in spite of their many, many, many, MANY faults. They are the ultimate proof that there is someone for everyone. So, this Valentine’s Day, let’s thank Rutgers. Without them, there would be many without hope of ever finding someone to love them. So here’s to you, Rutgers: thank YOU for being a beacon of hope to the bad, the unlovely, the imperfect. Finally, we have found your purpose, and a noble one it is. (#thanksRutgers)

The perfect date: Bowling. With bumpers. (Come on, if you’re with a Rutgers fan, you didn’t expect anything better, did you?)

The card: