Halloween is but a day away. The only thing scarier than your local haunted house or the neighbor’s yard that over-decorates for October 31st is Rutgers’ SP+ rating. As the calendar turns to November, the conference is taking pretty solid shape. While one division leader is the presumptive conference favorite to take part in the College Football Playoff, the other is yet to be truly tested and its season could range from pedestrian to cataclysmic (in an overall college football landscape sense) depending on how big Gophers fans would like to dream. Many teams have been mathematically eliminated from division contention and a few have even been eliminated from bowl eligibility. Most teams have played eight games, so we are beginning to see how good (or bad) teams really are unless they have made changes or experienced injuries that have drastically changed the make-up of their on-field performance (Illinois and Purdue perhaps?).
Since it is the day before All Hallows Eve, this week’s power rankings takes on a horror theme. The tiers will be organized by horror villains based on an arbitrary statistic combining the number of franchise installments the villain is in, the sheer iconic nature of the villain, and a number of other completely made up criteria that I shall keep shrouded in mystery.
So let’s get to it. And always remember that locking yourself in a small closest or room, going into the creepy-looking dark house, or any other horror film cliche is probably a terrible idea but still not as bad of an idea as it was to invite Rutgers into the Big Ten. LET’S GOOOOOOO!
(Do with these rankings what you will. SP+ rank and FEI (Fremeau Efficiency Index) rank is provided next to each team. Click these links for more information on SP+ and FEI.)
The Michael Meyers from the Halloween franchise Tier
#1 - Ohio State Buckeyes (1st, 1st)
Michael Meyers seems like an inexorable, unstoppable force of nature. So does Ohio State defensive end Chase Young. The newly minted Heisman hopeful will surely be in Jack Coan’s nightmares after he led the way in a dismantling Wisconsin, which only further cemented the Buckeyes’ place on this list. I’m starting to run out of superlatives for Ohio State’s performance thus far this season as they have stood out in every measurable and immeasurable metric that I can think of. The fact that they are fourth in the coach’s poll leads me to believe that the profession requires a heavy shakeup.
The Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th franchise Tier
#2 - Penn State Nittany Lions (7th, 9th)
Penn State gets their own tier, for now at least, in part because they are undefeated and have faced stiffer competition than Minnesota.
The Freddy Krueger from the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise Tier
#3 - Wisconsin Badgers (8th, 5th)
#4 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (12th, 11th)
#5 - Michigan Wolverines (11th, 17th)
The Springwood Slasher has always been associated with sleep, dreams, and nightmares. Wisconsin fans will hope to wake up from the nightmare that has been the last two weeks while Gopher fans continue to have dreams of Pasadena, Floyd, and beyond. Meanwhile, Michigan seems to have awoken from their first half season slumber and will undoubtedly be haunting Brian Kelly’s dreams.
I moved Michigan up to this tier because I believe they still have the talent to compete against the best of the best. While I am the first one to heap laurels at the feet of Ohio State and they haven’t lost to the Wolverines in eight years, The Game will still be played in Ann Arbor this year and Michigan’s defense is still very good. All this to say, I don’t think we’ve heard the last from Jim Harbaugh’s squad this year.
Meanwhile, I couldn’t quite bring myself to move Minnesota up any higher just yet, especially since the advanced metrics still like Penn State and Wisconsin more. However, if they win again in a week and a half, they will have earned a higher spot in these rankings.
The Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise Tier
#6 - Michigan State Spartans (29th, 27th)
#7 - Iowa Hawkeyes (20th, 16th)
#8 - Indiana Hoosiers (23rd, 40th)
I feel bad including Indiana in this tier because they deserve a little better. But the reason Leatherface represents these squads is because he’s quite an ugly villain and the aesthetics of these teams are quite ugly as well. Iowa and Michigan State both win their games with a monotonous fashion that might be better reflected by Michael Meyer’s slow, plodding movements but they aren’t nearly as excellent or iconic and therefore get moved to a place where the villain is so mediocre he needs a power tool to finish his victims.
The Chucky from the Child’s Play franchise Tier
#9 - Illinois Fighting Illini (59th, 58th)
#10 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (44th, 70th)
Much like the child’s doll that is possessed in the Child’s Play series, something has possessed the Illini into being a competitive squad the last few weeks. And something possessed the media and Husker fans to believe Nebraska was a division (and in some extraordinary cases, national title) contender preseason. Needless to say, it’s led to some bizarre results that is almost as strange as a movie franchise based on a doll wielding a knife capable of procreating and this franchise being successful enough to be rebooted.
The Jigsaw from the Saw franchise Tier
#11 - Purdue Boilermakers (55th, 63rd)
#12 - Maryland Terrapins (56th, 102nd)
#13 - Northwestern Wildcats (76th, 67th)
There are times in the Saw franchise when the plots are a tad convoluted and illogical. The same could be said about the tail-spinning seasons of these three teams. Additionally, the gore from Jigsaw’s games has caused many a viewer to become queasy and several people to cry out accusations of torture porn. These people had better not watch Northwestern’s offense because I’m pretty sure they’d arrest Mick McCall and Pat Fitzgerald for cruel and unusual punishment.
The Trantor from the film Ernest Scared Stupid Tier
#14 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (107th, 127th)
I tried to think of the stupidest scary movie I had ever seen. Trantor, “is a demonic troll who transforms children into wooden dolls to feast upon their energy.” The fact that he is defeated by Ernest P. Worrell leads me to believe he is the horror movie villain equivalent to a hapless Rutgers team that might be the worst Big Ten team in the history of modern college football.