How are you guys all doing in 2018? Any of you still on track with your New Year’s Resolutions? Mine was to write Power Polls and other sportsy articles in a timely manner, so you know, there’s always 2019.
Whatever. Odds are good that you’re not doing any better with yours. But we beat on, boats against the current of everything we know about ourselves, vowing to ourselves that this year we will run faster, stretch our our arms farther, and quit eating an entire package of Oreos in one sitting (this was actually F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first draft of this line, fun fact). We never do though, and in honor of our inevitable Oreo-hoovering, the final football Power Poll of the 2017 season is dedicated to our failed resolutions.
Take a Vacation—Ohio State (#1)
(First Place: 11 (that’s all of them) Previous week: 1)
This is the resolution of a workaholic who has at least glimmers of self-awareness. More than half of Americans, remarkably, don’t use all of their vacation days, so it seems a lot of people are right there with you, OSU. The reasons for this are unfathomable to a slacker Millennial like myself (or are we killing vacations too? It’s so hard to keep up), but there are some people who are just so consumed with work that they can’t find it within themselves to take a day off.
And Ohio State, boy, do we wish you’d take some time off from doing what you do, namely, beating the shit out of the rest of us. You did take a baby step in 2017—opting to do whatever the hell you did (visited the Amana colonies, I assume) instead of playing Iowa was an encouraging sign that you know how to completely unplug and let your hair down. Let’s see more of that in 2018 please, for your own mental health, you know. Take that vacation to properly see Europe this year. I hear that Latvia is beautiful the first weekend of November—why don’t you do that? I’m rooting for you to make this healthy change!
Lose Weight—Wisconsin (#2)
(High: 2 Low: 4 Previous Week: 2)
The gold standard of New Year’s resolutions, “lose weight” is adopted enthusiastically by millions of Americans still teetering woozily and struggling to zip their pants after holiday over-indulgences. Visions of sexy bikini bods or chiseled abs swim through their heads, as they ask “Why not me?” The reality, as pretty much everyone knows, often proves to be far different—and the “why not” proves to boil down to pretty much “because french fries are friggin’ delicious and kale sucks.”
This year, Badger fans dared to ask “why not us?” as an advantageous schedule and weak division propelled them to the dizzying heights of late-season undefeated status. Instead of french fries, the bugaboo to lofty dreams instead turned out to be Ohio State being actually good and Alex Hornibrook. You know, Wisconsin, one-pieces are nice too.
Didn’t Make a Resolution Because Too Cool For That, Already Believes Self Perfect—PSU (#3)
(High: 2 Low: 3 Last week: 3)
Not everyone makes a New Year’s resolution, of course. And those of you who fall in that camp have read along so far, nodding to yourself and patting yourself on the back for not falling into that trap. You’re so smart. You’re so good-looking. You’re already perfect, after all, and how do you improve upon perfection?
There’s also a really good chance that you’re a Penn State fan. More critical observers might be tempted to note that Penn State was not as good in 2017 as they were in the shining year of 2016, but as a PSU fan, you only know that you beat Akron nearly a dozen times, and you don’t really need to improve upon that. Nay, you probably can’t. You considered resolving to beat your self-proclaimed rival Ohio State...
...but then you decided it would probably be best to just delude yourself some more, declare yourselves the “real champs” by virtue of your own feelings and own infallible eye test, and move along with your high opinion of yourselves intact.
Enjoy Life More—MSU (#4)
(H: 3 L: 4 Last Week: 4)
It is the wisdom of Ferris Bueller— “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it”—that motivates this resolution. Aware of the many little ways in which our time is squandered or gobbled up by work drudgery, children, minutiae, and bad news on our phones, we declare that we will no longer be beholden to the tyranny of the urgent and will instead ENJOY LIFE.
It’s a perfectly admirable goal, if one that is pretty difficult to measure. (“January 17, 2018: Today I enjoyed life a moderate amount. This is up from yesterday when I enjoyed life a medium amount.”) But after winning only three games in 2016, it’s safe to say that Michigan State football fans DID enjoy life in 2017 an appreciable amount more than they did in 2016. And as you can see from the non-doctored photo above, even famed grump Mark Dantonio learned to stop and smell the roses and the piña coladas a bit more this year. Good for you, Mark.
Be More Charitable—Northwestern (#5)
(H: 5 L: 6 Last Week: 5)
Sometimes, rich people feel sort of bad about being rich and try to do kind things for people who have less to lessen the unequal burden they already bear by being poor. Ha! LOL sorry, this is America 2018, and that is 100% not at all the zeitgeist, is it?
Ah, but why not indulge in a bit of fictionalizing? Northwestern had to be something after all, didn’t they? After starting off the season being embarrassingly charitable (uh, Duke is actually also made up entirely of rich people, just like you, Northwestern, so charitable as that game was on your end, it was... misdirected.) But as the year went on, Northwestern grew stingier. They didn’t let poor Minnesota have a single point. They let hapless Illinois have but a pittance. The spirit of the season nearly moved them to give Kentucky a bowl win, but in the end, they Scrooged it up and claimed it for themselves.
So next year, Northwestern, let’s see if you can be a bit more generous with your opponents. Although, let’s knock it off with Duke, shall we? They really don’t need your charity.
Quit Smoking—Iowa (#6)
(H: 5 L: 7 Last Week: 9)
Well, well, well. Good for you, Iowa. Smoking kills, as the Australian government would graphically like you to know (see above). This is a great resolution to attempt, and congratulations on your attempt to make a positive change in your life!
However. This is a resolution MUCH easier made than done. Conquering tobacco long-term promises untold benefits, but actually accomplishing it? Well, that’s tough to do. And Iowa, you’ve already been down this road in 2017. It seemed for a time like you were poised to make a life-changing transformation, to become not just plain-ol’ Ferentzian Iowa, but the Iowa of your fields of dreams. An Iowa that would compete! And you made some early promising steps: you barely beat your archrival, Iowa State; you didn’t lose very badly to Penn State. And then, what we thought might be your breakthrough—whallopping Ohio State. No one knows what kind of patch you were wearing to make that happen—or did you arrange for Urban Meyer to undergo hypnotherapy? (Seriously, this is as good of an explanation as any.)
Alas, there was a relapse, as there always is, because you are Iowa. Wisky punched you in the mouth. You lost to Purdue. And though you finally won a bowl game by virtue of drawing the weakest opponent of all the Big Ten teams, you still let them hang around a lot longer than you needed to. What I’m saying is, Iowa, you are who you are, and the likelihood is that you’re going to continue stinking up the joint and paying a lot of money to continue doing what you do.
Work Out Regularly—Purdue (#7)
(H: 5 L: 8 Last Week: 7)
Usually when someone makes this resolution, everyone is all outwardly supportive but inwardly very skeptical of any substantive life change happening. This is because working out is the worst, and even though it’s good for you, we all already spend many hours a week doing things that suck but are necessary—so why add another few hours of something that falls in that category? Ugh.
But Purdue, we have to think you might actually be the rare bird who follows through with this resolution. Why, 2017 already saw you transform yourself more than any of us thought possible (or at least probable). You went from [redacted] punchline to not only a bowl team, but a bowl team that beat a P5 opponent. It’s really been very remarkable. So Purdue, if your January 1st proclamation was that you’ll finally get the beach bod of your dreams through consistent exercise... well, we can’t completely doubt you. You rock that bikini.
Eat Better—Michigan (#8)
(H: 7 L: 8 Last week: 6)
Can anyone think of some healthy foods that are quick and easy to prepare, yet refreshing to eat while one is on the hot seat? Because one J. Harbaugh in Ann Arbor might be interested...
Look, it’s pretty crazy that Harbaugh is on the hot seat when looking at this objectively. But, Michigan. The expectations were, and are, higher. And if you’ll recall (I’m sure you will, and if not...), Michigan rang in the New Year with some very ill-advised decisions. Up 19-3 in their bowl game with only 20 minutes left, a perfect conference bowl record on the line, Michigan was at the equivalent of having just finished a Chipotle burrito. You’re a bit stuffed, but pretty damn happy with life. And then... Michigan decided to have a second burrito, and it was a terrible, terrible mistake. Just like coughing away that lead to an SEC team and bringing shame on the conference was a terrible, terrible mistake.*
So yeah, Michigan. Try not to choke on whatever you choose to eat this year. Have some self-respect.
*Yes, yes, your mileage may vary on this being filed in “mistake” category. It was actually pretty funny. But stick with the analogy here.
Learn a New Hobby—Indiana (#9)
(H: 9 L: 10 LW: 8)
Once upon a time, Indiana was a basketball school. They lived, breathed, and died hoops, and it was their all-consuming passion. They were pretty good at it too. And then one day, they decided to try something else—football.
Like learning any new skill, there was the usual learning curve—very bad things happened at first, like Wisconsin hanging 83 points on them (remember, this is football not basketball—and also, Wisconsin has never scored 83 points on anyone in basketball). They went entire seasons without playing defense. The usual. But over time, there was hope.
And then suddenly, they peaked. And the peak, it turned out, wasn’t very high at all. What’s worse, their first love, basketball, just didn’t hold the spark it used to either, leaving Indiana sad and drifting about the Big Ten like a rogue rubber ducky. And so, Indiana, 2018 is the time for you to get it together. Try something new. Perhaps you could attempt to field a competitive volleyball team? Or... maybe you should just try knitting. It might be more your speed.
Spend More Time With Family and Friends—Minnesota (#10)
(H: 9 L: 13 LW: 13)
So, I’m not actually sure what Minnesota did during their non-bowl appearance to merit a bounce from #13 up to #10, but here we are. You come here for scorching hot takes and ill-informed voting, I presume, and we are here to serve. So, Minnesota at #10. Whatever.
This is the Grand Poobah of resolution Good Intentions—it has the whiff of self-improvement, but also the added allure of selflessness. So satisfying. When Minnesota hired PJ Fleck, there was more than a whiff of the hope of self-improvement; the Gophers splashed that stuff on in quantities that would make Dennis Feinstein blush. They haven’t really been that selfless though, unless you count finishing the season getting blanked 39-0 and 31-0 as selfless, or spineless, or oarless, or something.
Maybe then, this is the type of goal that the Gophers need—something to feel good about. And hey, they’re partway there. Giving up bowl season (and basketball tournament season, for that matter), they’ve cleared the calendar plenty for quality time with their loved ones. Aw.
Read a Book—Nebraska (#11)
(H: 10 L: 12 LW: 10)
You know, not everyone is a reader, and that’s ok! There is room for all types of people and all types of hobbies in the world. You, Nebraska, might just be a non-reader. But even so, most people at least once come to the point of making some sort of book-related self-improvement scheme. Maybe you’re finally going to read War and Peace. Maybe you’re finally going to read Hop on Pop. You know, whatever.
So here’s to trying exciting new things, Nebraska. When things aren’t working anymore and you’re losing to Minnesota by eleventy billion points, the wise thing to do is to seek greater knowledge and try something fresh. War and Peace may not get you where you want to go (namely, out of the cellar of the B1G West)—but maybe one Scott Frost will.
Find Love—Maryland (#12)
(H: 10 L: 12 LW: 12)
Riddle me this: what is more elusive? Finding someone to love Maryland as they are, butt-ugly flag and all? Or Maryland’s quest for a healthy QB in 2017? This... is actually a tough question, but Maryland, in pursuing love instead of a healthy QB, you’ve probably picked the more attainable option.
Maryland’s 2017 football season was both rough and unlucky, and it’s no surprise that fans would like to see pretty much anything different in 2018. While it’s great to aim high, especially this early in the year when all seems bright and possible, it’s also important to remember that sometimes, it’s ok to settle. And even if true love eludes you, you’ve at least achieved grudging tolerance—which is a lot more than Rutgers can say.
Live Laugh Love—Rutgers (#13)
(H: 10 L: 13 LW: 11)
This isn’t a goal. It’s a wall sticker that unoriginal housewives slap up in their living rooms as “inspiration.” It is, quite frankly, the worst. So of COURSE Rutgers would go ahead and try to make “Live Laugh Love” a New Year’s resolution.
Rutgers, it isn’t measurable. How can you tell me in April if you are successfully living laughing and loving? You can’t. Is it realistic? For you, no, it probably isn’t. You are in New Jersey and all of your sports teams are hot garbage. New York City doesn’t care about you, and probably never will. So is it likely that you’ll be living laughing and loving? I’d say not.
Ok, but you’ve already stuck the vinyl to the wall of your tract home. It’s cursive, and very elegant. Now what? You know, there isn’t actually that much we can do for you. Order a few extra vinyls, send them to the athletic department, and hope they put them in strategic locker rooms, weight rooms, subpar athletic facilities, etc. You’re right. This is probably as effective as anything else you can do—may as well give it a whirl.
Get Organized—Illinois (#14)
(H: 14 L: 14 LW: 14 Oof.)
Have you guys heard of Marie Kondo? I know that most of the readership of this site is male, and therefore, she may not have infected your world. Anyway, she’s a “professional organizer” and her big thing is getting rid of everything that doesn’t “spark joy” for you. She’s very nice about it. You’re supposed to put your hands on the item, see if it sparks joy, and if it doesn’t, you are to thank (aloud) the rejected, non-joy sparking item for its service before you throw it in a plastic bag with the other losers and take them to Goodwill. She is kind of nuts.
Anyway, what I’m saying is “Illinois. Thank you for being in the Big Ten for 122 years. You truly did your duty as a school, and as a punching bag, and we thank you for serving us in this way. But you no longer bring joy, to us or to your fans. Instead, you make everyone really sad and kinda full of despair. Again, we thank you, and wish you well on your journey to your new home.”
Pick a new hobby for Indiana:
This poll is closed
Become a history museum docent