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Week Two Power Poll: Backstreet’s Back, Alright!

Gonna bring the flavor, gonna show you how.

Super Bowl XXXV - Backstreet Boys Press Conference
Here are the Backstreet Boys holding a football, showing how seamlessly I have blended these two topics.
Photo by KMazur/WireImage

What? Backstreet Boys? In 2022? Even for this blog, this seems like a particularly irrelevant choice for a Power Poll, right? WRONG. For I, BigRedTwice, am going to a Backstreet Boys concert this coming Sunday, and I am very, very excited!!! I’m going with a good friend of mine, and we’ve already purchased matching BSB t-shirts and endured the endless ridicule of her husband–but no matter, he can enjoy staying home with all of their children while we get tipsy and sing “I Want it That Way” badly and loudly. I can’t wait. Your late 30s are lit, y’all.

The Backstreet Boys have been around for awhile, as you probably know. One of them turned 50 last year, and I was NOT OK. No one ever warns you about this side of aging–you’re prepared to have to deal with your own march through the decades, but you’re never quite ready for the stars of your youth to start hitting some very scary milestone birthdays. Kevin is 50, you guys! I’m still processing this.

If you’ve been on this site way too long, you may remember that boy bands have made a power poll appearance before, way back in 2016, when I did a “Boy Band Archetypes” Power Poll. There’s an impressive level of commitment to the graphics in that one, because I replicated a teen magazine page for EVERY SINGLE TEAM. Good lord. I had a lot more free time in 2016, apparently. Still, go check it out, and chuckle over how few of those coaches are still in the Big Ten!

BRT Update: So, I got Covid this week. So I might still be able to go (heavily masked) to the concert on Sunday (which would be Day 6 of Covid), but maybe not. :( That’s also why this Power Poll is super late, and super half-assed. It’s just me, Mucinex, and trying to do all my work remotely right now, and I am tired. :(

#1 - Ohio State - “As Long As You Love Me”

First Place Votes: 13 High: 1 Low: 2 Last Week: 1

Although loneliness has always been a friend of mine

I’m leavin’ my life in your hands

People say I’m crazy and that I am blind

Risking it all in a glance

And how you got me blind is still a mystery

I can’t get you out of my head

Don’t care what is written in your history

As long as you’re here with me

I don’t care who you are

Where you’re from

What you did

As long as you love me

Who you are

Where you’re from

Don’t care what you did

As long as you love me

Loneliness is the lot of many an Ohio State fan, as there are few who are willing to endure correction in the “oH bUt It’S THE OhIo StAtE uNiVeRsItY!” vein for long. But you know what? OSU fans do not care, because their team is good. Every year. This year too. Probably also next year. When you’ve got that kind of emotional fulfillment, who needs companionship?

It’s hard to rag on OSU too hard this week, because they beat Notre Dame, and that’s an act of service to the community. But don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll be back to hating on their fans and their annoying, do-no-wrong team next week.

#2 - Michigan - “Everybody”

FPV: 1 High: 1 Low: 4 LW: 2

Oh, my God, we’re back again

Brothers, sisters, everybody sing

Gonna bring the flavor, show you how

Gotta question for you, better answer now, yeah

Am I original?


Am I the only one?


Am I sexual?


Am I everything you need?

You better rock your body now

Oh my God, Michigan’s back again!!! No one– with perhaps the exception of a certain school in Austin, Texas– is back more often than Michigan. It’s a September tradition: maize-and-blue exuberance, September Heismans, dead certainty that they are the only one. Last year, a funny thing happened and this conviction hung around a lot longer than usual, at least until Georgia, uh, rocked the Wolverines’ (dead, lifeless) body to the tune of 34-11.

After a 51-7 romp over Colorado State, and a– what’s the opposite of a murderer’s row?— coming up in the next few weeks, Michigan is going to be belting out their back-ness even louder than usual. Yeaaaaaah.

By the way, that “Am I sexual?” line in there is SO left field, isn’t it? Talk about a tone shift, and also a super weird question.

#3 Penn State - “All I Have To Give”

H: 2 L: 6 LW: 4

I don’t care if he buys you nice things

Does his gifts come from the heart?

I don’t know, but if you were my girl

I’d make it so we’d never be apart

But my love is all I have to give

Without you I don’t think I could live

I wish I could give the world to you

But love is all I have to give (give)

Wow, even by the standards of the Backstreet Boys, this is a trash song. Perfect for Penn State, in my opinion. But that’s just my opinion–my fellow writers apparently felt that an eleventh hour, dramatic game-winning drive against Purdue was worthy of moving up a spot from last week, rather than worthy of ridicule and derision.

Also worthy of derision is the line “Does his gifts come from the heart?” Oof. I don’t care if he buys me nice things, if he can’t nail subject/verb agreement, we’d be spending ALL of our time apart.

Penn State fans might wish they could have the world, or at least an emphatic, non-dramatic win against Purdue, but all James Franklin’s crew has to give is their love… and a timely exploitation of Purdue’s piss-poor defense.

#4 Minnesota - “Don’t Wanna Lose You Now”

H: 3 L: 8 LW: 6

I’ve got this feeling you’re not gonna stay

It’s burning within me

The fear of losing

Of slipping away

It just keeps getting closer, baby

Whatever reason to leave that I’ve had

My place was always beside you

And I wish that I didn’t need you so bad

Your face just won’t go away

Don’t want to lose you now

Baby, I know we can win this

Don’t want to lose you now

No no, or ever again

This song, I think, is about a clueless boyfriend who has screwed up but doesn’t know what he did and now is worried that his girlfriend is going to leave him. He thinks that singing her this song will make her “un-mad” and boy, is he wrong about that. At least, it wouldn’t work for me - musicians are mostly very annoying people, and guys with a guitar are a red flag. I stand by this take, even though I know more than half of you are now feeling personally attacked.

Anyway, Minnesota has a slightly different take on these lyrics. After much of a season without Mohamed Ibrahim’s impressive talents, he’s back in a Gopher uniform, and Minny fans couldn’t be happier. He ran wild over New Mexico State (admittedly this is less difficult than it may sound), gathering up 6.3 yards per carry and two touchdowns in his return.

But with every run he makes, every Minnesota fan’s worst fears creep in - they don’t want to lose him now, no no, or ever again. Because without him, they’re basically Iowa. (Haha, just kidding. No one’s offense is that bad. Iowa just deserves to be shamed at every turn for whatever that was last week.)

#5 Michigan State - “We’ve Got It Goin’ On”

H: 3 L: 10 LW: 3

We’ve got it goin’ on for years

We’ve got it goin’ on for years

Well I’m creepin’ up on your left

Straight up funky when I get with you

Keep it ruthless when I get wet

Keep the party packed in my corner

Tough like granite to keep the crowd hype

Get up on this just to get right

What you want is what you gonna get

Backstreet’s got the special effects, uh

Forget Backstreet, last year it seemed that Mel Tucker had it goin’ on. “For years” is perhaps a bit of a stretch, as MSU’s recent history is, shall we say… uneven. But there have definitely been some high points, and last year’s record was nothing to sneeze at. (Auth. Note: I am literally sneezing at everything this week,OMG.)

But the start to this season was not quite enough to “keep the crowd hype.” Western Michigan didn’t pose a massive threat to the Spartans at any point, but they kept it closer than those in green felt comfortable with until the 4th quarter. As a result, MSU fell two spaces in our Power Poll, and saw PSU and Minnesota “creepin’ up on their left.”

#6 Wisconsin - “Larger than Life”

H: 3 L: 12 LW: 5

Looking at the crowd

And I see your body sway, c’mon

Wishin’ I could thank you in a different way, c’mon

‘Cause all of your time spent keeps us alive

All you people can’t you see, can’t you see

How your love’s affecting our reality

Every time we’re down

You can make it right

And that makes you larger than life

You know what, I phoned this one in. Looking at the crowd and seeing bodies sway… sounds a lot like “Jump Around,” doesn’t it? Or, like an alarming Tim Brando incident I learned about from Thumpasaurus’ latest installation of Fall’s Tarts. I’m all for men expressing affection for other men and not being shamed for it by society, but this looks a little… non-consensual. Get it together, Tim. Uncool.

It’s ok that I phoned this one in, because that’s what Wisconsin did when they beat… Illinois Central? Illinois Western? Illinois State? Whatever, I don’t care. Congrats on getting a larger than life win, Wisconsin.

#7 Maryland - “I Want it That Way”

H: 6 L: 9 LW: 11

You are my fire

The one desire

Believe when I say

I want it that way

But we are two worlds apart

Can’t reach to your heart

When you say

That I want it that way

Tell me why

Ain’t nothin’ but a heartache

Tell me why

Ain’t nothin’ but a mistake

Tell me why

I never wanna hear you say

I want it that way

This is easily the nicest thing I’ve ever done for Maryland, as this is the most iconic and awesome Backstreet Boys song. You could argue that that still isn’t a nice thing, but it’s the best I can do for you, Terps.

Did you read that ditty above? Did it make sense to you? Of course it didn’t make sense, because it’s nonsense–something the band readily admits. This isn’t The National, BSB was never here for the lyrical depth–but it is a little bit funny that their biggest hit doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Interestingly, there’s an alternative version of this song with lyrics that DO make sense, but it’s just not the same (see the link above if you’d like to hear it.)

Maryland had little trouble making sense of the assignment against Buffalo, and they’re unlikely to struggle much with Charlotte this week. But in two weeks, a one-two punch against the state of Michigan starts, and we’ll see how much Maryland understands how things are done in the Big Ten.

#8 Purdue - “Incomplete”

H: 6 L: 10 LW: 9

Empty spaces fill me up with holes

Distant faces with no place left to go

Without you, within me I can find no rest

Where I’m going is anybody’s guess

I tried to go on like I never knew you

I’m awake but my world is half asleep

I pray for this heart to be unbroken

But without you all I’m going to be is, incomplete

Voices tell me I should carry on

But I am swimming in an ocean all alone

Baby, my baby

It’s written on your face

You still wonder if we made a big mistake

I tried to go on like I never knew you

I’m awake but my world is half asleep

I pray for this heart to be unbroken

But without you all I’m going to be is, incomplete

I don’t mean to drag it on

But I can’t seem to let you go

I don’t wanna make you face this world alone

I wanna let you go (alone)

I tried to go on like I never knew you

I’m awake but my world is half asleep

I pray for this heart to be unbroken

But without you all I’m going to be is, incomplete


Did anyone know that this song is actually the lament of a Purdue fan and not about a romantic breakup? Should we notify Pitchfork?

Tough break, you guys.

#9 Northwestern - “Drowning”

H: 7 L: 13 LW: 10

‘Cause every time I breathe, I take you in

And my heart beats again

Baby, I can’t help it

You keep me drowning in your love

Every time I try to rise above

I’m swept away by love

Baby, I can’t help it

You keep me drownin’ in your love

Maybe I’m a drifter

Maybe not

‘Cause I have known the safety

Of floating freely in your arms

Did you know we actually had a pre-season vote, but then I was drowning in “other duties as assigned” and getting ready to take a group of college students abroad for the first time and I didn’t write any poll? Well, it’s true. And in that poll, Northwestern was solidly #14. Why wouldn’t they be? We all saw what they did last season, and it was the ugliest thing any of us had ever seen, right up until last Saturday in Iowa City set a new low bar in hideousness.

But then they came out and beat Nebraska. Now, trust us, friends: this win will not age well. But because they followed it up with a bye week, they’re one of the only teams with a conference win, and it’s prompted rumors of the return of “Good Year Northwestern.” Time will certainly tell–as I said, clawing out a win against Nebraska is not necessarily the harbinger of a successful season–but like a drowning swimmer coming up for air, Pat Fitzgerald may have yet another well-timed gasp designed to keep him safely in his job.

#10 Rutgers - “Chances”

H: 5 (???) L: 13 LW: 13

What if I’d never run into you?

What if you’d never smiled at me?

What if I hadn’t noticed you too?

And you’d never showed up where I happened to be

What’s a girl like you doing in a place like this?

On a quiet night, what are the odds?

What’s a guy like me doing in a place like this?

I could have just walked by, who would’ve thought?

What are the chances that we’d end up dancing?

Like two in a million, like once in a life

I could have found you, put my arms around you

Like two in a million, like once in a life

What are the chances?

Jeez Rutgers. I know you’re like, technically not the worst anymore, but you did need some final-minutes heroics to put away Boston College, and that’s not great. You got the win, but most of the conference sees your score updates on their app of choice, witnesses your flailing attempts to defeat uninspiring non-conference opponents, and wonders what bizarro chances led to you being here. What are the chances, indeed.

#11 Iowa - “Quit Playing Games”

Last Place Votes: 3 H: 6 L: 14 LW: 8

Sometimes I wish I could turn back time

Impossible as it may seem

But I wish I could so bad, baby

Quit playin’ games with my heart

Quit playin’ games with my heart

Before you tear us apart (my heart)

Quit playin’ games with my heart

I should’ve known from the start

You know you got to stop (from my heart)

You’re tearing us apart (my heart)

Quit playin’ games with my heart

I live my life the way

To keep you comin’ back to me

Everything I do is for you

So what is it that you can’t see?

Well, well, well, Iowa… fancy meeting you down here! You won the game, but as we’ve extensively and exquisitely covered on the site this week, you did it in the most asinine and embarrassing way possible. So welcome to the bottom half of the Power Poll, Hawks!

In a way, Iowa has already quit playing games–the game of football as we know it, with touchdowns and an offensive plan and all of that NONSENSE. What it is that Iowa fans can’t see is how they’re going to keep on watching this team with the permanent Ferentz failson fixture attached to their team.

As for the rest of us? Well, we kinda like Brian. Keep up the good work, kiddo!

#12 Indiana - “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”

H: 7 L: 13 LW: 12

I got mixed emotions

Did I finally find me a river that could lead me out to the ocean?

‘Cause I’ve only ever known the kind of love

That leaves you battered and broken

So forgive me for my mixed emotions

Yeah, yeah

After a disappointing 2021 campaign, Indiana surprised us all (Insert Thump denial of surprise Here) by actually winning a winnable game. Sure, it took a late rally to do it, but a win’s a win (right Iowa?)

But all of this “success” has been met by a collective “meh” from Indiana fans. This might be because there aren’t many Indiana fans left in the wild. It might also be because it was against Illinois. But I think it’s because they’re afraid to hope. Indiana football has only ever given them the kind of love that leaves them battered and broken.

#13 Illinois - “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely”

LPV: 4 H: 11 L: 14 LW: 7

Show me the meaning of being lonely

Is this the feeling I need to walk with?

Tell me why I can’t be there where you are

There’s something missing in my heart

Life goes on as it never ends

Eyes of stone observe the trends

They never say forever gaze, if only

Guilty roads to an endless love (endless love)

There’s no control

Are you with me now?

Your every wish will be done

They tell me

Show me the meaning of being lonely

Is this the feeling I need to walk with?

(Tell me why) tell me why I can’t be there where you are

There’s something missing in my heart

There’s nowhere to run

I have no place to go

Surrender my heart, body, and soul

How can it be

You’re asking me

To feel the things you never show

You are missing in my heart

Tell me why can’t I be there where you are?

A couple of things for Thump to be pissy about this week: first, in spite of Illinois embarrassing themselves and once again launching him into a rage complex, they still didn’t manage to lock down the bottom spot in the Power Poll; and second, Illinois got a nice thing here (one of BSB’s top bops) and they don’t deserve nice things. Sorry Thump.

But come on… is this song perfect for Illinois, or what? The loneliness, the despair, the futility of being an Illinois fan is artfully echoed by these haunting lyrics. “There’s nowhere to run, Thump has no place to go, He surrendered his heart, body, and soul!” Illinois football is perhaps the ultimate bad girlfriend–she demands time, money, and emotional investment, and repays it with f*ckall.

#14 Nebraska - “Get Another Boyfriend”

LPV: 7 H: 9 L: 14 LW: 14

Let’s talk about what he’s done

To become your number one

Or was it all the promises of diamonds, pearls and party dresses

That turned you on

I’ve seen it before, (don’t take) anymore

Free too you’re through for sure

Just go get on with your life, stop

Actin’ like you’re givin’ up

I’m tellin’ you, go get on with your life

Stop actin’ like you’re givin’ up

Listen, I mean it

There’s nothin’ that he’s worthy of

He’s just another playa’

Playin’ in the name of love

I’ve seen enough

Now this must come to an end (must come to an end)

Get another boyfriend

The first thing I want to discuss is whether or not any men were actually promising “Diamonds, pearls, and party dresses” in the Year of our Lord 2000, when this came out. This is some Sinatra-era stuff my dudes. Girls in 2000 wanted “Butterfly necklaces, Von Dutch hats, and Juicy tracksuits.” To be fair, that is lyrically much more complicated.

Anyway, the point is that Scott Frost has promised much and delivered little, and it seems like sooner rather than later, Nebraska is going to be looking for another “boyfriend” to make empty promises about bringing back the glamour of yesteryear.


Settle it:

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    Backstreet Boys
    (61 votes)
  • 45%
    (51 votes)
112 votes total Vote Now