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Game of Thrones, but with Big Ten Football

It’s like a power poll but without the poll!

I’ve been spending a lot of time the past month re-watching Game of Thrones, in anticipation of the upcoming final season of the show. In the middle of my re-watch, a thought popped into my head: “I’ve been reallllllly lazy lately and should probably write something for OTE.” And BOOM! Just like that, the lowest of low-hanging fruit of articles was born—comparing the sports you like to an extremely popular pop culture thing.

What follows are my thoughts on which B1G football team matches up best with which family, place, group of people, etc... from Game of Thrones! Some explanifiers first. These are in the order that I came up with the analogy, so even though this may LOOK exactly like an OTE power poll, it isn’t. The way you can tell is Illinois and Rutgers aren’t second to last and last, respectively.

Second, mooooooost of the analogy comes from the first couple seasons of the show. Watchers or readers will know that like 23 of the people/families/whatever below are, shall we say, not in the positions I’ve described them at this point. It was too hard to analogize to current seasons, as there are way more badass people and families and lands now than there are equally good or competent or enjoyable teams in our conference. In short, I basically analogized each school to the time frame in the show that worked best, irregardless of how things look now.

Finally, and most importantly, some of the super recent stuff I tried to avoid spoiling for those of you who haven’t watched yet. I can’t figure out how to do spoiler text in articles, so I just shouted a bunch for you to be careful.


There is no family more loathesome

You’re the biggest name on the continent. You’ve got the most money. Everything you do is news. And while you may not always technically be in charge…come on, you’re always in charge. Your biggest rival is the second wealthiest in the conference, has a lot of its own history and success, but really, the Tyrells/Michigan are there to serve you, whether by lending troops to win the battle or pooping the bed during The Game. Also, while the rest of us don’t always have “proof,” we KNOW there’s some shady goings on with your family.


The demise of the Stark family was prematurely stated

You’ve tended to run the show up where you are…but you’re way the f up there, and honestly, the teams from the other half of the conference aren’t all that concerned about you. You do things The Right And Honorable Way, refusing to sully the sport with obscene things like “passing,” and you do those things better than almost everyone else. Despite all the warnings, you keep heading South to the Conference Championship Game, and you keep getting burned alive and beheaded. If Westeros had press conferences, you’d be super bland at them. Also it snows a lot where you are.


Row the (war)Boat! Rowing around all over the place, looking to pick off Nobody families along the coast, and…well mostly it’s the boat thing that makes me analogize Minnesota to the Ironborn. The Starks also run your life. You tried that one time to rebel against the new king, and the Starks broke down your doors, killed all but one of your sons, and kidnapped the last son. Sure sure, you snuck in that one victory by waiting until the Starks had to go do war elsewhere, leaving you free to “win” the North by basically existing, but let me tell you what, SPOILERSPOILERSPOILER the Starks have come all the way back, and you better watch out. Also you have a long and storied history that nobody cares about.


Based on how GOT is currently shaping up, I don’t really love this analogy, but based on where things stood the first couple seasons? This is spot on. You’ve got the big name. You’ve got the championship history. At the beginning of the show, you’ve hit rock bottom, but you quickly turn things around. Your head coach gives birth to a couple dragons, you pick up some top notch recruits to help with all the killing you’ve got planned, and the hype grows exponentially. Will you be able to come all the way back? Run the conference? Time will tell, but those dragons will probably help. Also dragons and nittany lions both aren’t real.


Honestly this choice way, way, way overrates Nebraska, but that’s kinda their thing

Same thing re: time frame for analogy. To be clear, you’re the season 1 and 2 White Walkers, absolutely not the SPOILERSPOILERSPOILER dragon-having White Walkers. Early on, you’re much more myth than legend. Everyone all over The North has been told for years, “watch out! scary stuff north of the wall!” and it’s been all talk. You used to be a force, but it’s been SO LONG that we aren’t sure if you were ACTUALLY scary and real, or if you’re just a story told to scare high schoolers into joining you. Of late, you’ve shown some glimmers, but guess what! The North is waiting and ready. Also your coach’s name is Frost and that’s basically what the White Walkers are.


The people over there in the Vale are tough, rugged people. They aren’t all that different from the Starks in the North, but everything the Vale does just FEELS like a grind. Chalk it up to that mountainous, largely-impassable terrain I guess. Still, when the time comes, you go from also-ran to a key player on the continent. You can take the Lannisters without warning, you’re hard to get through or by, and do you participate in all the theater and excess of a messy execution? Hell no, you just punt the condemned out a window. Also you breastfeed your kids until they’re like 10, and I’m sure Iowa gets wild sometimes.


Having visited once, I’d say Champaign-Urbana and North of the Wall are similar

For years you’ve been throwing yourselves against The Wall and the North without success. You’re disorganized, you don’t have much in the way of resources, depth, or leadership, and you’ve been a mere nuisance for so long, people hardly remember when you were an actual threat. That’s not to say you don’t have your occasional giant, guy-who-can-see-through-animals, or playmaking single combat fighters, though. You do, and sometimes you make things interesting. But mostly you’re just bad at actually winning.


You’re one of the largest cities on the continent, and although you don’t get the publicity some of the other houses and regions, you’re a lot more important and valuable than people might realize. You’re the home to The Citadel, the place where all of the nerds in the conference go train to be professional nerds for the other families. Plus, if there were some version of a reciprocating saw-turned-sex toy in Game of Thrones, you can bet those freaky maesters at the Citadel would want to “study” it. Also Oldtown has the tallest building on the continent, and there are tall buildings near Northwestern.


Historically, you’re the traditional home of the most powerful family on the continent—the Targaryens. In modern times, though, you’re the home of the always-serious, perpetually grumpy-looking grammar pedant, Stannis Baratheon. You’re boring, unflashy, and productive. The biggest problem with this analogy is Stannis would never, ever give permission to be as unorthodox or creative as Little Giants or Some Other Mark Dantonio Trick Play. That Dantonio scowl though? That thing can go frown line for frown line with Stannis.


Man oh MAN are you the opposite of your brother Stannis! You are flashy as all get out, you have some blazing fast superstar knights like Loras Tyrell, and you have the continent’s biggest drum army. You rise to prominence seemingly out of nowhere, and if a couple things go your way, you’re really going to shock people! Sure, you end up getting taken out by big bro Stannis, but there’s always next season, and Moore-as Tyrell is still there.


Not pictured: Doddering fool Mace Tyrell. Analogize him to Michigan as you wish

You’re a big name on the continent! Both currently and historically. Some would go so far as to say you’re the second biggest name in both. You’re certainly the second richest behind your chief rival. But in the end, you’re basically a resource farm for the Lannisters. You send your former players, your former coaches, and your formerly-impressive national ranking to them. No matter what you do, we can barely remember the last time you beat the Lannisters. Nonetheless, warranted or not, your reputation and success are very important to the entire continent.


Well known, foundational to the conference/continent, and prone to just get beaten down over and over and over, you can fairly be described as The Crossroads of Westeros. War after war you put up a decent fight, going toe-to-toe with the biggest names around...but you somehow find a way to lose in a demoralizing fashion. I dunno man, I may just want to call it quits at this point. Dear Indiana Football, please be more remarkable so I can do you the service of actually giving you a good analogy.


Ah! Rejuvenation, reenergization, and the fresh taste of getting to make fun of Rutgers Football. You’re Qarth. You’re not a country or state or family, and in fact you’re not even really a part of the same continent as the rest of the families/lands. Sure sure sure, you’re “the greatest city that ever was or will be.” We’ve all heard the story. We know how great things were way back when. But for all that history, all that bluster about greatness and sleeping and giants, it took like five seconds for one of the traditional conference members families of Westeros, the Targaryens, to utterly /pwn you, take everything you had of value, and leave you in ruin.


You’re up there in the far right

Who? Good question. You’re the result when I type “crab sigil Game of Thrones” into the ol’ Google thing. I really couldn’t come up with any ideas for Maryland that both analogized well from a “character traits” perspective but didn’t vastly oversell Maryland’s actual football performance. So congratulations, Maryland. Your prize for rounding out this now-power poll totally a power poll exercise is you get to be “that one family from Game of Thrones that has a crab on its flag and clothes.”


What? How could you NOT HAVE...

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    (55 votes)
  • 9%
    (25 votes)
  • 15%
    Ser Pounce!
    (41 votes)
  • 13%
    Wherever Bronn belongs!
    (36 votes)
  • 39%
    Shut up nerds
    (104 votes)
261 votes total Vote Now