I know I’ve said this every week, but this season is reaching historic levels of crazy after only five weeks of play. More ranked teams have lost through five weeks than ever before. There are bizarre undefeated teams from untraditional places like Wake Forest, SMU, Kentucky, and Wyoming. The ACC and Pac-12 are all sorts of messy. The Big 12 is teetering on being completely erroneous despite both Oklahomas being undefeated. And the Big Ten is doing its best SEC impersonation in the AP Poll.
Since things are getting so crazy, I’ve decided this week to make the theme of my tiers based on Jack Nicholson characters who were “crazy” in one way or another. I don’t know, Jack was a subject of a podcast I listened to this morning... what do you want from me?!?!? (Please note: The performances/tier titles aren’t necessarily tiered by quality or any metric for that matter and they are not all-encompassing of all “crazy” people Nicholson has played because that would be impossible.)
(Do with these rankings what you will. SP+ rank and FEI (Fremeau Efficiency Index) rank is provided next to each team, respectively. Click these links for more information on SP+ and FEI. The previous week’s position in these pointless power rankings follows those two superior metrics.)
The Randle Patrick “R.P.” McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Tier
#1 - Iowa Hawkeyes (15th, 6th, last week #2)
#2 - Penn State Nittany Lions (6th, 7th, last week #1)
#3 - Ohio State Buckeyes (3rd, 4th, last week #3)
#4 - Michigan Wolverines (8th, 3rd, last week #4)
The award winning performance about a guy pretending to be crazy rightfully represents the top tier in the conference. Michigan, despite skepticism surrounding the offense, answered the call on the road in Madison last week. Ohio State returned to their ways of absolutely demolishing inferior opponents. Penn State pitched a shutout and might have sent the Hoosiers into a prolonged tailspin. And Iowa, thanks to their utilizing turnovers to decimate Maryland on the road in such impressive fashion, leap-frogged the Nittany Lions ahead of their showdown in Iowa City this weekend. While Kirk Ferentz shares a lot of similarities to Nurse Ratchet, the question will be which defense will destroy enough sinks and bathroom tiles Chief Bromden style to escape from the insane asylum that is the state of Iowa with an unblemished record.
The Jack Torrence in The Shining Tier
#5 - Michigan State Spartans (24th, 27th, last week #5)
#6 - Wisconsin Badgers (10th, 23rd, last week #7)
#7 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (22nd, 33rd, last week #11)
Much like the audience knowing something was just a bit off in Jack during the opening sequences of The Shining, there seems to be something just a bit off with the teams in this second tier. Wisconsin’s SP+ rank is still elite but the eye test says differently. Michigan State continues to stay undefeated, but a general lack of a statement win gives me the heebie-geebies about their true ceiling. And then there’s Nebraska. The Cornhuskers were left for dead by yours truly when they lost to Illinois to start the season. And they’ve lost twice more since but all three games were on the road. The defense looks like a legitimate game-changing unit. The offense is gaining yards at a good clip. As much as I hate to say it, Scott Frost might be pulling more of a Danny-in-the-maze maneuver than originally expected...
The Frank Castello in The Departed Tier
#8 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (39th, 52nd, last week #13)
#9 - Maryland Terrapins (21st, 73rd, last week #6)
#10 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (62nd, 70th, last week #9)
#11 - Indiana Hoosiers (59th, 64th, last week #10)
#12 - Purdue Boilermakers (54th, 50th, last week #8)
Some of the interesting choices made by a combination of Nicholson’s improvising and Martin Scorsese’s allowance of said improvising gave us the bizarre and uneven character of Frank Castello. There was just something off about some intercut scenes, the quality of his Boston accent, and the strange racially offensive introduction monologue. In any case, this kind of crazy is reflected in this tier, where these are teams that don’t make a whole lot of sense. Just look at the difference between Maryland’s SP+ rank and FEI rank. Even the systems don’t understand these teams. I bumped Minnesota up because they won a road conference game whereas the rest of the teams got thumped (minus Purdue, who Minnesota, a supposedly now garbage team, defeated). The margin of loss for Maryland, Rutgers, and Indiana were the most concerning things about these teams. Their week-to-week performance and rank amongst their conference brethren seem as volatile as the sadistic and sociopathic Frank, king of the Boston Irish crime syndicate.
The Dr. Buddy Rydell in Anger Management Tier
#13 - Northwestern Wildcats (86th, 90th, last week #12)
#14 - Illinois Fighting Illini (92nd, 89th, last week #14)
A garbage tier for two garbage teams. It looks like the Hat Trophy could go to the least worst team in the conference this year.