This one was probably used before, but I’m new here.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is not my favorite actor of all-time, though I respect the heck out of him for his work ethic, attitude, and impact globally. And in fact when I moved to California in 2010, he was my governor. Feels like a long, long time ago.
NOTE: MANY SPOILER ALERTS!
1 - Michigan - Dutch, Predator
FPV: 10 High: 1 Low: 3 Last week: 1
Dutch is the commander of the blackest of black ops team that the US government has access to. Most of the squadron is no match for the alien predator that has landed on earth to hunt for sport, luckily Dutch is up to the challenge. He successfully survives repeated attacks in the dense jungle before he is able to get to the chopper.
Predator was a huge hit in the 1980s and has maintained it’s popularity ever since just as the Wolverines have been pretty good seemingly forever. It was released in 1987 which was not Michigan’s best season (they only went 8-4), but they did beat Alabama in the Hall of Fame Bowl. And yes Michigan, like Dutch, is known for his travels around the world for “fun.”
2 - Penn State - John Matrix, Commando
FPV: 3 High: 1 Low: 3 LW: 3
Had this poll waited another year, USC or UCLA should probably get this one as the entire movie takes place in California (convenient for film production). John Matrix is a retired special forces veteran who peacefully lives along the California coast with his daughter Jenny, played by Alyssa Milano. Playing against Penn State for most of us always does feel like a hostage situation as it was for Matrix who had a seemingly impossible mission.
Like Commando is the most 80s movie ever, Penn State peaked in the 80s.
The movie was released in 1985 when Michigan finished 2nd in the national poll and in the Big Ten to Iowa, while Penn State was ranked third with an identical 11-1 record. Penn State was undefeated and #1 though before an Orange Bowl loss to Oklahoma who leapfrogged the Wolverines to be crowned National Champions. Will that loss come in the College Football playoff?
3 - Ohio State - The T-800, Terminator franchise
FPV: 2 High: 1 Low: 3 LW: 2
The Terminator was a 1984 B-movie that turned out to be one of the greatest movies (or at least famous franchises) of all time.
“Can you stop it?” Sara asks. Kyle replies, “I don’t know. With these weapons. . . I don’t know.” That’s basically every team’s coaching staff when preparing for the Buckeyes.
4 - Iowa - Conan, the Conan Franchise
High: 4 Low: 5 LW: 6
First off, know that originally Lord Kalidor in Red Sonja was supposed to be Conan so this is sort of a two for one, Kirk and Brian Ferentz style!
Do we really need to describe how Iowa’s offense is trapped in a time many moons ago that is primitive? On the flip side, Conan somehow defeated Wilt Chamberlain despite all the stories about how he was no match in the weight room just as Iowa continues to do the impossible.
5 - Maryland - Quaid, Total Recall
High: 4 Low: 8 LW: 4
Is September Maryland the part where Sharon Stone is the wife in a peaceful, easy life until he decides to go to Recall? And then the rest of the season is a fight for his life against every sort of shady character in the solar system?
6 - Wisconsin - John Kimball, Kindergarten Cop
High: 5 Low: 11 LW: 5
John Kimball was a complete bad mofo as a city narcotics officer. And like many of us trading in our exciting lives for ones that involve children, he got more than he bargained for as an undercover kindergarten teacher. In the process though, a heck of a lot of amazing prank call material that lives on to this day was produced.
Wisconsin must feel like the adult amongst children in the Big Ten West. They have been trying to show those around them the lessons of life in 2023 with little success.
It did take being saved by his pet ferret (Zuzu has to confirm for us if Badgers and ferrets are both Helictidinae), to defeat his enemy in an elementary school that had showers for some reason. Is that a safe place to be during an actual fire? I’d ask Pat Fitzg—- nevermind. Too soon?
Wisconsin seems well on their way to win the west just as detective John Kimball did in the Pacific Northwest in this film.
7 - Rutgers - Ben Richards, The Running Man
High: 5 Low: 11 LW: 7
This movie was not much like the Richard Bachman (a pen name of Stephen King) novel, but more appropriate for the big screen.
Richard Dawson kills it in this movie.
They did defeat Syracuse (Jim Brown who played Fireball’s alma mater) in 2021 and proved it was no fluke as they took out their nemeses Boston College and now Virginia Tech. They even beat Northwestern
After escaping prison, will Rutgers get the girl (a bowl bid) in 2023 before having to retreat to the underground once again?
8 - Nebraska - Howard Langston, Jingle all the Way
High: 7 Low: 12 LW: 9
Though Howard is actually a mattress salesman in Minneapolis, Nebraska and Minnesota have been joined at the hip this year ever since that “classic” we all witnessed on Big Ten opening day which is good enough for the team of one writing this post. He is such a workaholic he forgets until Christmas Eve to buy the only thing his attention starved child wants from him, a Turbo Man action figure. Howard (not to be confused with the team that almost beat Northwestern earlier this year) eventually dresses up as Turbo Man to try and get the last toy available that will be given to one kid in the city’s parade audience. Like the good dads of the state of Nebraska, he of course chooses his own son from the crowd. And just like the good kids of Nebraska the kid stops caring about what he wanted all along because his dad is the “real Turbo Man!” Talk about moving the goal posts.
The film was released in 1996 though I would swear my mom’s extended family saw it in theaters after our annual dinner at Ruby Tuesday both in 1996 AND 1997 before changing it up and seeing “A Bug’s Life” in 1998. That coincided perfectly with Nebraska’s three national titles in four years. And like the Osborne Huskers this movie was pretty good at the time when Arnold, Sinbad, and Rita Wilson were all at their peaks. By 2023 though, those cheesy Hallmark movies get a lot more burn during
bowl season the holidays.
Struggling to defeat his creepy neighbor played by Phil Hartman, a comedic mailman played by Sinbad, car thieves, con men in Santa suits running a counterfeit toy ring (Santacon was invented to prevent this, I swear), the Rocketeer style jet pack, and even a well funded Minneapolis Police Department, nothing has come easy for the Huskers this year. And yet in the soft Big Ten West, they can totally redeem themselves by becoming Turbo Men at the end! Can the Huskers rebound under Matt Rhule for the long-term? Or will they be Howard Langston who also forgot to get his wife a holiday gift and fade into the abyss?
9 - Illinois - Hercules, Hercules in New York
LPV: 1 High: 7 Low: 14 LW: 14
Hercules in New York was Arnold’s first film. He was credited as “Arnold Strong,” a failed attempt at a stage name to complement his co-star, comedian Arnold Strang. The Greek god Zeus finally gets annoyed at his son Hercules’s insistence and sends him down to earth which eventually results in shenanigans that take place with a variety of funny people including comedians, athletes, and professional wrestlers. At some point, due to his disrespect, Hercules is stripped of his immortal powers and embarrassed in front of everybody. He does get them back in the end though.
I thought about University of Chicago getting a special shout out, but they have no intentions of returning to the gridiron. As his first feature film, this probably should have been Rutgers who occupies the bottom spot more than anyone and hasn’t won much since the very first college football game, they surely haven’t been anywhere close to Olympus since. The film has a special place in the collection of anyone who actually collects Arnold films, just like Illinois will always have a place in the heart of every true Big Ten fan hence the selection.
The film was released in 1970 and the Illini started out that season with win against an Oregon team that would go 6-4-1, but limped to a 3-7 finish. Like Illinois in 2023, this film is not really worth watching for its comedic value or its action sequences. It even had the title “Hercules goes Bananas” when released on home video which is how every fan in Champaign probably feels right now. But will the Illini get their powers restored at the very end or ever?
10 - Purdue - Harry Tasker, True Lies
High: 7 Low: 13 LW: 8
No Arnold character goes through as many twists and turns as Harry Tasker. It’s believed by his family and friends that he’s merely a computer salesman. (As someone who has worked in tech for 15 years I have not seen a salesman with the time to maintain a physique quite like Arnold.) But behind that false nerd lies a man of many skills and is somehow an undercover secret agent when everybody would notice him on the street.
Purdue did win the West last year, but right after saving his wife from a limousine about to fall off a bridge, his daughter gets kidnapped. Yes he does rescue her, but eventually you know this will not end well even if this Arnold does get his marriage back with Jamie Lee Curtis.
11 - Minnesota - Julius Benedict, Twins
High: 5 Low: 13 LW: 11
Julius Benedict is separated at birth from his twin Vincent (played by Danny DeVito) after a scientific experiment.
The movie had to be the pick for Minnesota, so can we jam a square peg into a round hole like the Gophers have been trying to do this season?
The movie has a happy ending, will the Gophers?
12 - Michigan State - US Marshall John Kruger, Eraser
High: 8 Low: 13 LW: 10
Marshall John Kruger
Ok so Michigan State in 2023 probably doesn’t deserve a character this awesome, but with the stories coming out of East Lansing it feels like no one can be trusted except maybe Harlon Barnett.
And wait, does Kruger get the girl? An absolutely stunning yet also intelligent, tech-savvy Vanessa Williams at the end? Time will tell.
13 - Northwestern - Emil Rottmayer / Victor X Mannheim, Escape Plan
LPV: 1 High: 8 Low: 14 LW: 12
The plot of this film is actually kind of awesome even though it sounds stupid, hence why I took five years before I actually watched it. Ray Breslin played by Sylvester Stallone is hired to do correctional facility consulting and this one is the toughest of them all. He ends up getting betrayed by his business associates and is trapped in a prison on a ship in international waters. He befriends Emil, played by Arnold, as they use every tactic they can to escape the bad guys running the place. Even people who usually play good guys are bad in this movie, like Jim Caviezel. Rarely am I pleasantly surprised by a movie quite as much as this one.
Much like Michigan State above, the title is the main draw here. Arnold isn’t even the star of this movie, Stallone is. Northwestern to the outside world is not appealing to watch. And yet they did their best to escape prison with an entertaining comeback win against Minnesota. Then they squeaked out a victory over Howard. It’s not how you start (in prison), it’s how you finish (escaped) much like the 2013 Wildcats were. 5-7 overall including a season ending win over archrival Illinois is respectable compared to what they had to go through along the way. Can they end their season on a high note?
14 - Indiana - Detective Jack Slater / Himself, Last Action Hero
LPV: 13 High: 13 Low: 14 LW: 13
This film is a little complicated to explain in such a short space. And yet my brother at age 6 when it was released on home video loved renting it from our local Empire Video. A young boy named Danny gets a magical movie ticket that allows him to get into the fictional world of his favorite LAPD detective Jack Slater. One of the villains eventually gets a hold of the ticket which allows him to escape to the real world and chaos ensues between the film world and the real world within this film. So Jack Slater and/or Arnold then work with Danny to try to stop the villain. Slater eventually needs to return to the fictional world where life threatening injuries are merely flesh wounds.
The year it was released, the 1993 Hoosiers were a solid 8-4 with all four losses coming to ranked teams. This ridiculous story had an $85 million budget (4x Allen’s buyout) and somehow grossed $137 million at the box office. Much like the respect we had for Indiana basketball in the 1990s and football as recently as 2020, this film has not aged well. Like Tom Allen’s career it also is a little hard to explain and seems to have peaked in the middle before all hell breaks loose. It polls in the 40% range for audience and critics on rotten tomatoes which is a glass half full just like the Hoosiers winning percentage will be. And Tom Noonan (majorly underrated as an actor) is a villain in this movie, sound a little too close to Tom Allen off the tip of your tongue?
15 - The Big Ten West - The Expendables
At least they had a prime.
16 - The Big Ten East - End of Days.
Division won’t be missed by anyone outside of a few select cities, this content though plays to a wider audience.
If they all went into a jungle Hunger Games style, who would come out alive?