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Big Ten Football Pre-Bowl Power Poll: Christmas Songs Edition!

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You sick of this stuff yet?

All I want for Christmas is Khalil Tate.

I haven’t really gotten into the spirit, as friends and family aren’t near, I haven’t bothered to put up decorations, the snow hasn’t really been sticking and my work is shutting down for more days than they’re covering with holiday pay, giving us the opposite of a Christmas bonus. Nevertheless, Thumpasaurus Cratchit here will attempt to bathe in the glowing spirit of the holidays, probably by going to Frankenmuth this weekend. Another way to do that is to listen to Christmas music that doesn’t suck!

Ohio State Buckeyes (#1) - Adeste Fidelis (O Come All Ye Faithful)

Record: 12-1 | Last Time: 2 | High: 1 | Low: 1 | First Place Votes: 14 | Points: 196

The Buckeye faithful did in fact come, joyful and triumphant, to Indianapolis. This is about as triumphant a Christmas song as there will ever be; this version comes via the Final Boss Of Italian Tenors, Luciano Pavarotti. It was actually composed by King John IV of Portugal. Don’t say you didn’t learn anything. Urban Meyer abdicates the throne with an 82-9 record and henceforth Ryan Day sitteth at the right hand of the Father. A glorious occasion awaits the Buckeyes in Pasadena: the rare True Rose Bowl, pitting the Big Ten Champion against the PAC-12 Champion, as it was in days of yore and as it should always be, forever and ever. In Stagg’s name we pray, amen.

Michigan Wolverines (#2) - O Holy Night

Record: 10-2 | Last Time: 1 | High: 2 | Low: 3 | Points: 179

Jim Harbaugh has indeed been the savior Michigan was promised. There is, however, a stark difference between “saving a program from being middling-to-ass” and “winning the conference.” Even with this said, there’s no denying that Michigan is in a MUCH better place now.

Long lay the Wolverines in sin and error pining,
Til He appeared, and the soul felt its worth

Unfortunately, they fell on their knees and heard the Buckeye voices in Columbus. Nevertheless, they’re worthy to represent this fantastic song, which comes to you in this form via Boston Brass recording Stan Kenton’s Christmas big band arrangements with all brass. One of my very favorite albums.

Northwestern Wildcats (#3) - Carol of the Bells

Record: 8-5 | Last Time: 3 | High: 2 | Low: 5 | Points: 162

Why the hell is this song so good? Nobody’s really sure, but it is. How the hell did Northwestern go 8-1 in the Big Ten? Nobody’s really sure, but they did. Northwestern has an offense, but it’s strange and doesn’t really add much to the equation, much like the lyrics to this carol. This unusual number based on a Ukrainian folk chant has been covered by everyone, but the one you’ll hear the most in commercials is this one by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Northwestern’s also a bit like Trans-Siberian Orchestra in that on closer examination they’re nowhere near as good as you’d think just by seeing their best performance. Congratulations, you added a lead guitar to a formula that already involves eye-rollingly pompous vocals to create something that, upon a second listen, is too cheesy to be taken seriously.

Nevertheless, ding dong ding dong.

Penn State Nittany Lions (#4) - Let It Snow

Record: 9-3 | Last Time: 4 | High: 2 | Low: 5 | Points: 161

Well, the weather at the top of the East is frightful, but the Citrus Bowl is so delightful, and since Pennsylvania blows, you should go, you should go, you should go!

So the Michigan game went poorly, but you still had Trace McSorely, and Kentucky’s offense is slow, you should go, you should go, you should go!

When you finally reach your seats, how you’ll nervously sit through the game. If Kentucky hands you defeat, all the way home there’ll be shame!

Anyway, this is Twisted Sister’s cover from their ridiculously unnecessary Christmas album because you deserve bizarre things that aren’t necessarily awful in an awful way.

I don’t know what I mean by that either.

Iowa Hawkeyes (#5) - God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Record: 8-4 | Last Time: 5 | High: 4 | Low: 11 | Points: 135

I posted this Mannheim Steamroller version because it’s awesome, but really, the traditional version would be more appropriate. Iowa went a very traditional 8-4 and will now go to the Outback Bowl, as is tradition. God rest ye merry Hawkeye fans, let nothing you dismay. Remember that Kirk Ferentz took this job on Christmas Day, as in, on the same day that Jesus was born 2,018 years ago, and he hasn’t changed much about the way the program operates.

Michigan State Spartans (#6) - Feliz Navidad

Record: 7-5 | Last Time: 7 | High: 6 | Low: 10 | Points: 109

What’s more repetitive and predictable, this song or the Michigan State offense?

You gotta establish the Feliz Navidad.

Purdue Boilermakers (#7) - Good King Wenceslas

Record: 6-6 | Last Time: 10 | High: 5 | Low: 10 | Points: 105

Good King Brohm did bless the poor (Purdue fans) and himself found blessing in the form of a HUGE raise. Such a pleasant and upbeat tune, once again brought to you by Stan Kenton’s arrangement played by Boston Brass.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (#8) - Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Record: 4-8 | Last Time: 8 | High: 6 | Low: 12 | Points: 94

This season was all about the future, so Nebraska fans are still anticipating the payoff of the Frost era with Christmas Eve levels of excitement. Not that this is in any way relevant, but every single lyric of that song is between unsettling and terrifying without the Santa context. This version is by the incomparable John Bayless off his “Christmas Rhapsody” album. The man is a two-handed orchestra on the piano.

Wisconsin Badgers (#9) - Sleigh Ride

Record: 7-5 | Last Time: 6 | High: 5 | Low: 11 | Points: 91

Sleigh Ride is a perfectly good song, which makes it different from Wisconsin. The comparison comes in when you compare what a sleigh ride is advertised as versus what it actually is. Christmas music, especially this song and Jingle Bells, lead you to believe that sleigh rides are awesome and exciting. I can promise you from firsthand experience that this is not the case. We were all led to believe Wisconsin was a force to be reckoned with this year. Instead, they coughed up the Axe and got exiled to Yankee stadium.

Minnesota Golden Gophers (#10) - Greensleeves

Record: 6-6 | Last Time: 12 | High: 6 | Low: 11 | Points: 82

Greensleeves isn’t a Christmas song, but in the mid-19th century, a dude had a religious experience that caused him to write What Child Is This? to the tune of Greensleeves and now here it is in the Christmas rotation, like oars on a Gopher helmet. It’s a weird thing that might lose to Illinois or beat Wisconsin.

Maryland Terrapins (#11) - Last Christmas

Record: 5-7 | Last Time: 9 | High: 7 | Low: 11 | Points: 69

Last Christmas, you gave DJ Durkin your heart, but the very next day, staggering incompetence by the athletic department gave it away. This year, to save you from tears, you’ll give it to Mike Locksley and some pretty high-profile recruits.

This season was weird, slightly awesome but mostly bad. Very much like this song, except this song is substantially worse.

Nostalgia isn’t your friend.

Indiana Hoosiers (#12) - Frosty the Snowman

Record: 5-7 | Last Time: 11 | High: 10 | Low: 12 | Points: 44

Jimmy Durante is just delightful, but you know Frosty The Snowman is going to melt. There must have been some magic in that 4-1 start they found, but then they played Ohio State and got buried in the ground.

Frosty the Snowman knew the sun was hot that day that he was going to die.

It’s a little more dark when you put it that way, huh?

The meltdown is inevitable.

Illinois Fighting Illini (#13) - The Twelve Days Of Christmas

Record: 4-8 | LPV: 1 | Last Time: 13 | High: 13 | Low: 14 | Points: 27

You always think the garbage fire that is this song is going to end, but then it just keeps going. This Stan Kenton arrangement is just about the only version of this song I can listen to all the way through.

Alternate: Please Daddy Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas, because please, just one time, don’t do the dumbest possible thing. I don’t wanna see my mama cry.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights (#14) - Santa Claus Has Got The AIDS This Year

Record: 1-11 | Last Time: 14 | Last Place Votes: 13 | High: 13 | Low: 14 | Points: 15

What the fuck is this