Due to the results of this past weekend, I didn’t have the heart to follow up the bell-themed rankings last week with pig-themed rankings this week. And you know, it would’ve been really easy. Babe, Wilbur from Charlotte’s Web, Porky Pig, Napoleon from Animal Farm, bacon, etc. It was all right there for the taking. But Minnesota lost, the West Division got infinitely more interesting, thinking of Floyd stuck in Iowa makes me sad, and the rankings theme must change accordingly.
It didn’t really seem like anything changed in the bottom half of the conference. But the top half sure does seem quite crowded after the obvious exceptionalism that is Ohio State this season (although even when putting in 4th stringers you can’t give up 21 points to Rutgers!). So amidst my thoughts of sadness and the crowded upper middle of the conference, I was thinking about crowds and that led me to thinking about population control (I don’t know why, my brain is a mysterious even to myself) which made me think of Thomas Robert Malthus which made me think of the Malthusian trap which then made me think of other “laws” that have people’s names in it and ‘lo and behold, my tier theme was born.
In what is undoubtedly the biggest stretch yet, I present to you the Week 13 Big Ten Power Rankings in tiers of eponymous laws. Yes, we have indeed jumped the shark (If only that shark that the Fonz had jumped had had a name I would be able to include it in the rankings!).
The Occam’s Razor Tier
#1 - Ohio State Buckeyes (1st, 1st)
“Entities should not be multiplied without necessity.” Paraphrased: “The simplest solution is most likely the right one.”
Let’s not get cute about things. Despite allowing those aforementioned 21 points to Rutgers (although it should be noted that Chase Young didn’t play and I assume the 4th string defense was in for a majority of this game), the Buckeyes are the cream of the crop of not only the Big Ten but I believe all of college football with the data points we have so far. Occam would be proud of the simplicity of thought put forth in creating this ranking and tier.
The Gause’s Law Tier
#2 - Penn State Nittany Lions (7th, 9th)
#3 - Wisconsin Badgers (13th, 6th)
#4 - Michigan Wolverines (10th, 14th)
#5 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (16th, 13th)
#6 - Iowa Hawkeyes (23rd, 16th)
Paraphrased: “Complete competitors can not coexist”
Essentially, these teams that all have displayed high quality will not be able to coexist within their respective divisional races. Penn State will be eliminated from the East race if they lose, as will Michigan. While the Hawkeyes have for all intents and purposes been eliminated, they were in direct competition with Minnesota and Wisconsin until the Iowa dropped their contest to the Badgers in Madison two weeks ago. And finally, ultimately, the name of the tier comes down to the fact that the Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe that will take place in Minneapolis ten days from now will be a direct competition for the West crown and a trip to Indianapolis and the Big Ten Championship Game. Neither of the teams’ division hopes can exist while the other is successful.
The Cheops Law Tier
#7 - Indiana Hoosiers (20th, 35th)
#8 - Illinois Fighting Illini (51st, 62nd)
“Nothing ever gets built on schedule or within budget.”
I thought this apropos to these two teams because despite the initial growing pains with the two coaches of these teams in Tom Allen and Lovie Smith, both programs seem to have a lot of positive momentum heading into the end of the 2019. So while their improvements may not have been as fast as some fans wanted (Lovie was seen on the hot seat until the Illini’s recent torrid stretch), they have proven to at least made progress in bettering the condition of their respective programs. Despite not being on schedule (I can’t speak to the budget), there is a lot to like going forward for these teams. Although beware of the Fighting Illini’s unusually high turnover luck this season and its possible negative implications for next season’s record...
The Peter Principle Tier
#9 - Michigan State Spartans (40th, 38th)
#10 - Purdue Boilermakers (61st, 69th)
#11 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (55th, 78th)
“In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.”
This pertains to three specific entities: the offensive side of the Michigan State coaching staff, Jeff Brohm, and Scott Frost. Allow me to expand on this slightly forced connection. It appears that everyone who was shuffled around on the Michigan State staff this past off season has reached their respective levels of incompetence in their positions. It’s possible the same could be said for head coach Mark Dantonio but considering what he has done with the program over his decade plus at the helm, I wasn’t ready to make that crack about him. I may be being slightly too harsh on Jeff Brohm due to extensive injuries to the Boilermakers, but its very possible that Louisville lucked out when they failed to hire him away from Purdue. After having outstanding success at Western Kentucky with his amazing offensive prowess, being the head coach of a run-of-the-mill Big Ten West program may be his ceiling. Meanwhile, Scott Frost has reached the Nebraska native hive mind pinnacle: being head coach at Nebraska. Thus far, it has proven too big of a job for him although it is still early in the process and some would argue too early to make a judgement. Like I said at the beginning, we may have jumped the shark here so take everything with a grain of salt.
The Tobler’s First Law of Geography Tier
#12 - Maryland Terrapins (80th, 109th)
#13 - Northwestern Wildcats (84th, 92nd)
“Everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things.”
Being a geography major in college, one could just see this as a shameless plug for an underrated discipline of study. And sure, it is. Tobler’s Law is cool. But it make s a lot of sense when you think about the current identities of these two schools. Maryland is kind of aimless but they are hoping to recruit heavily and successfully in the DMV-area with Mike Locksley at the helm along with all his background from that part of the East Coast. The closer you are to his sphere of influence, the more likely you are to see relations to Maryland’s recruits and their preferred style of play. Likewise, Pat Fitzgerald was an All-American linebacker at Northwestern during his playing career. So it would only make sense that his team has taken on an identify of being defense-oriented. Unfortunately, that has come at the cost of a competent offense. And so it goes according to Tobler. The closer you have the boomer-esque Fitzgerald to a college football offense, the more related that offense will be to a boomer-era offense from the 1960s.
The Murphy’s Law Tier
#14 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (110th, 125th)
“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”
Yep, that just about sums it up.