Last week, at OTE Writers Headquarters,* site manager Graham came busting in,** gnashing his teeth and rending his garments.*** “You guys!!!!” he lamented. “How have we never done a Pizza Power Poll?” None of us could believe it was possible either. After all, eating pizza while not watching football games is collectively one of our favorite pastimes! It seemed natural that there should be a Pizza Power Poll—not having one was an egregious offense almost on the level of daring to leave Josey Jewell out of the Players of the Week discussion. So because we can only handle one real meltdown around here for the week and Iowa fans already took care of it, here’s your Pizza Power Poll. Eat up!
*It’s a Slack channel
**Typed a comment with some caps
***I assume this happened
Ohio State—Meatlovers (#1)
I know, I know... you thought I’d say that Ohio State was Sad Pizza. It was tempting, believe me.
But that was then, and this is 2017, and the world is a beautiful, happy, glorious place, at least for those in the world who already have all the power, prestige and riches they could ever want and damn everyone else. I am talking about Congress, of course, but also Ohio State. OSU’s embarrassment of riches carried the day in Week 1 over a determined Indiana team who came prepared—but ultimately got out-athleted. In this way, OSU is like meatlovers (or Triple Meat, or Meat Treat, or Meat Tornado, or whatever your shop calls the kind with all of the meat) pizza. Hamburger pizza is nice, or sausage, or pepperoni. These are all perfectly nice pizzas. But for some, that just isn’t enough, and they have to pile on all of the meaty toppings (or blue-chip recruits and fancy coaches although I don’t know what Tim Beck would have been in this analogy—a rogue anchovy?), gorging themselves shamelessly on a deep heap of the good stuff. Congrats, OSU. It paid off again.
Penn State—Canadian Bacon (#2)
I’m sure I’m in for it for naming Penn State “Canadian Bacon Pizza” for this poll. Canadian Bacon is a perfectly serviceable pizza variety, some might even argue it’s quite a good one, but Penn State fans, inevitably, think that they’re World’s Most Expensive Pizza, which features:
the whole thing is made with flakes of 24-karat gold from Ecuador. It is also topped with white Stilton cheese imported from England, French foie gras, truffles, and Ossetra, a caviar from the Caspian Sea that generally costs $12,000 per kilogram.
There is no reason for this pizza to exist, or for it to ever be ordered. The person who orders it has a whopping case of entitlement, and a deep need to feel special. I suppose there IS reason to think that this is Penn State’s pizza, when I put it that way.
But no. Here’s the thing, Penn State. You’re solid. A very good pizza, you might say. But no matter how much you try to dress yourselves up as one of the greats, and give yourselves airs, you are still just Penn State—a pretty good team. And that’s why your spirit pizza is Canadian bacon—which is, at the end of the day, pretty much just some fairly tasty ham that’s putting on airs. Enjoy!
Margherita Pizza is beautifully simple and minimally weird in its execution—just tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. As such, it doesn’t necessarily seem like a great fit for a team that recently dressed as school buses for a game and that is helmed by Human Weirdsmobile Jim Harbaugh.
But you see, the margherita pizza is a real blue blood—it has roots in Italy, and the kind of pizza street cred that, say, taco pizza can only dream of. People take it seriously, whether or not it deserves it, much like the University of Michigan football team. And finally, this authentic Italian dish is perfect for Michigan, because as it turns out, both Jim Harbaugh and Wilton Speight are bonafide Italian pizza experts. It is only right that we give these two
Michelin Michigan men nothing but the real thing.
Wisconsin is Cheese Pizza. “But BRT, come on—you’re totally phoning it it! Wisconsin as cheese pizza is positively uninspired!” Well, you’re right. This one was a gimme. But aside from it being apropos for a fanbase who spends the second half of their fall weekends with foam chunks of cheese on their heads, this works in other ways too.
You see, cheese pizza is pretty stinkin’ boring. But it’s hard to deny that there’s a comforting steadiness about it, a reliability that is hard to find in the modern world. A cheese pizza will quell the protests of both a finicky co-worker at a company lunch and a picky child who may or may not later defeat the Wet Bandits. And even if you’d rather have something else, you could probably bring yourself to eat cheese pizza in a jam. In fact, it’s so boringly versatile that 37% of pizza orders reportedly include plain ol’ cheese. It’s this boring but effective reliability that truly makes Wisconsin the cheese pizza of the Big Ten—they just keep chugging along, pleasing their fans, doing their thing, and not getting overly fancy about it.
In some ways, this analogy fails from the get-go, because mushroom pizza is awesome, and Iowa is terrible and the worst. But setting aside my instinctive hatred of the worst state in the country, I can see that Iowa really is the mushroom pizza of the Big Ten.
Think about it. Mushrooms are not flashy. In fact, they’re actually little ugly—laying there all brown and shriveled on your pizza. Likewise, Iowa, with its refusal to deploy any kind of meaningful offense, preferring instead to rely on unsexy defense, is far from the flashiest team in the conference. Like the humble mushroom, there’s a certain “of the earth” quality that resonates with fans who might be put off by louder, showier teams like Penn State. And finally, like mushrooms, Iowa fans breed in dark, damp places. Yes, if Iowa were a pizza, it would be everyone’s favorite fungal food—let’s hear it for the mushroom!
Maryland—Dessert Pizza (#6)
I almost never know what to write for Maryland in these polls—I can only go back to the well for crab-themed jokes and snide ugly uniform comments for so long. So I very much appreciate you giving me something else to write about this week, Terrapins. And, as a Husker fan, I must doubly thank you, because you gave me something to write about in the most excellent way possible. Texas is the worst.
Maryland has earned Dessert Pizza for this week’s poll. There are certainly some of you who suspect I’m damning with faint praise, but I’m really not. No, dessert pizza isn’t going to hit the spot when you’re looking for something hot and meat-flavored, but within the genre, it’s a pretty delicious iteration of a classic dish. And that’s where we’re at with you, Maryland. As you can see from the graph at the beginning of this article, we have rewarded you for your impressive performance! We’re still not totally sure about you, and you’re still a bit of an outsider... but we’ve discovered that maybe you aren’t that bad after all. Be our fruit pizza this week, Maryland.
Well, what can we say. You’re not everyone’s cup of tea—as a wise woman once said, “Calzones are just pizza that’s harder to eat.” Fair enough. Still, you do have your pizza-like qualities, and your fans, though not the largest fanbase in the world, are deeply, deeply dedicated to you:
Calzones, like pizza, have a lot of good things going for them: tomato sauce, crust, cheesy goodness, some variety of meat... there’s a lot to like. And Nebraska, there are some exciting things to like about you too! You’ve got a QB who appears capable of passing the ball (TO HIS OWN TEAMMATES EVEN!) and a young RB who looks like he could be special. But, like the calzone’s fatal flaw that keeps it from being as good as traditional pizza (harder to eat), you too have your fatal flaw—and that is that your defense last week was looser than the bowels of the Parks and Rec menfolk after they consumed poisoned calzones (“Do you think she’ll still like me...when I’m dead?”) in a catering disaster. If the defense doesn’t start making improvements soon, you’re going to start looking as doomed as “Ben’s Low-Cal Calzone Zone” scheme.
Northwestern—Thai Pizza (#8)
Well you know, Northwestern, that wasn’t the Week #1 performance we expected from you. Nevada isn’t very good, and... ((remembers that Northwestern lost 9-7 to Illinois State early in the season last year)) You know what? Maybe this was our fault for expecting too much from you, Wildcats. This is who you usually are early in the season—namely, a solidly mediocre football team. In hindsight, of course you struggled to put away Nevada.
Thai pizza isn’t bad, per se—but it is a little unnecessary and pretentious. Like the Northwestern fan this week who took exception to Husker fans daring to cheer on the defense even though they had played poorly against an inferior opponent. It’s like he didn’t even know how football games work! You cheer for your team, especially when the game is on the line! Maybe he got confused because the tarps don’t usually cheer very loudly, whether the game is close against Nevada or not? Anyway, you Wildkitties never seem to know what’s going on early in the season, kind of like someone putting tofu and peanut sauce on a pizza. Just because it all ends up working better than one might expect that doesn’t mean it’s not a little unsettling.
Michigan State—Supreme (#9)
Man, it’s amazing what a restful offseason can do, amirite? From losing to Illinois to beating Bowling Green by four scores in only a few short months! Yes, the days of 3-9 are gone for good, and it’s clear that the Spartans are back to reign supreme once more. I know, because a guy who took issue with me not giving MSU pre-season credit on the basis of going, you know, 3-9 last year told me so. #disrespekt engaged!
So you see, there was really no choice but to declare Michigan State supreme. I would have declared them all-galaxy pizza if that was a thing, but it’s not. Our “writers” rewarded MSU’s solid performance with a modest bump up the Power Poll, and if they can carry that success forward past presumably oarless Western Michigan and Notre Dame in the coming weeks, they’ll find even more respect forthcoming.
Minnesota—Taco Pizza (#10)
I’ll be blunt with you, Minnesota—you’re just trying WAY too hard. Yes, you got a cute young coach (though he aged himself 10-15 years with that haircut, just sayin’). Yes, you should be excited about that! But it’s getting a little silly. I watched your first game, and TWO MINUTES into it, the announcers had already said “Their oars are in the water!” Twice. And a reality show? Come on, Gophers. Have some self respect.
All of this try-hardness brings us to taco pizza. Independently, each of these things are already incredibly delicious. I can’t fault the person who thought “Hey, maybe together they’ll be even MORE delicious!” It was an experiment worth trying, like hiring a hot young coach. But once humanity discovered that combining the two made each a worse version of itself, we should have stopped immediately, because watching it try to struggle on as a “thing” is just painful. Like, trying to score on Buffalo painful. Maybe you should try a tater tot pizza next time, Minny—you can call it hotdish pizzadish.
Indiana—The New York/Chicago Pizza Debate (#11)
Certain things in life possess inevitability. Conventional wisdom once said that these things were limited to death and taxes. But we know that there are other things that simply will always happen: among them, that Chicagoans and New Yorkers will be locked forever in a pissing match about whose pizza is better, and that Indiana will always find itself in close games with big-time opponents, giving hope to fans and the masses alike, before crumpling or getting very unlucky at the end.
Indiana was visited once again by the inevitability fairy last Thursday, giving Ohio State a run for their money and shocking the visiting Buckeyes with a 14-13 lead. Unfortunately for Indiana, Ohio State has more talent than they do. The Hoosiers briefly, beautifully, made us believe—but in the end, inevitability—and the Buckeyes—carried the day.
Purdue—Sunday Morning Cold, Leftover Pizza (#12)
Purdue!!! Look at you at #12! Such great heights—we are proud of you! In seriousness, what we saw out of Purdue last week, although a loss, was fairly encouraging. Could Purdue finally be starting its ascent from the conference cellar?
Time will tell if Purdue really has started to turn the corner, but for now, we know that Purdue is like cold, leftover pizza on a Sunday morning. You’re not exactly proud that you’re eating it, but there it is, and you know what? It’s not really that bad. Maybe even kinda good. We’ll see how it settles.
We interrupt this Power Poll for a very important announcement: The Sleeping Giant Has Awakened and rolled over into the thirteenth spot! Yes, folks, it’s true. After holding securely to dead last since Week 6 of last season, Rutgers is finally movin’ on up. Remarkably, they did this without winning a game, but by simply hanging in there for an entire game with a solid opponent to boot. Apparently my colleagues are believers in the merits of the “moral victory.”
I expect this move to be controversial—does a better than expected performance deserve recognition over an actual, albeit ugly, victory? You can fight that out in the comments. You know what else you can fight out in the comments? If pineapple belongs on a pizza. Just as Rutgers is the most controversial and divisive member of the conference, so too is “pineapple on a pizza” a topic which divides brother against brother. It seems there is no middle ground on this one—either you love that sweet tropical goodness against the savory flavors of ham and cheese... or you find warm pineapple on a pizza to be a violation of all that is good and decent in the world.
Illinois—Pizza on the Roof (#14)
Illinois, you’ve accomplished something remarkable—you won your game. That is, in itself, a little bit remarkable, but the truly amazing part is that in spite of winning, you’ve managed to take the bottom spot from Rutgers, a team so routinely a punching bag around here, we once made a Power Poll out of all the mean things we’ve called them (#rockorsomething #neverforget). So yeah, not a great week for you.
That’s why we’ve chosen for you to be “Pizza on the Roof.” Needless to say, if you’re chucking pizza onto your roof, you’re not in a healthy place emotionally. Life is not going well. And while your wife hasn’t discovered you’re cooking meth and gotten all mad about it, let’s just say that your home life isn’t exactly smooth sailing at the moment either. Are brighter days ahead? Can you relegate Rutgers once more to the bottom by beating the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky? Unfortunately, your schedule isn’t looking so great. You may want to climb up on that roof and retrieve that pie for some sad pizza consumption.
Pineapple on a Pizza: Yea or Nay?
This poll is closed