Rivalry week has come and gone and the conference has been turned topsy-turvy. After the dust settled from the two key Saturday games, it wasn’t the conference championship matchup that most expected just three or four weeks ago. A supposedly rolling Wisconsin squad was dispatched by our beloved Gophers. And thanks to another collapse by the Nebraska Cornhuskers the day before on Black Friday, there were celebrations galore across Iowa City as the final seconds ticked away at Huntington Bank Stadium. Minnesota’s victory had clinched the West for the Hawkeyes.
Meanwhile, many miles east in Ann Arbor, Coach Jim Harbaugh felt the Atlas-esque weight of the world melt off his shoulders as he finally, finally, FINALLY beat Michigan’s hated rival, won the East Division, and eliminated the Buckeyes from any CFP talk with one convincing victory over Ohio State. Michigan looked every bit the part of CFP contender and possible Big Ten champion in an impressive performance on both sides of the ball. One might say Harbaugh finally got the enormous monkey off of his back (at least, for now). And thus, our tiers today will reflect notable simians.
The rest of the conference was a morass of mediocre teams scrappy for bowl eligibility and second-tier rivalries dishing out precious tokens. They provided us with the final data points for the power rankings this season. I hope you have enjoyed my attempts at witty banter and self-deprecation throughout the season. While at times a little sluggish, I have enjoyed touching base every Wednesday this season to give you my view of the conference in which our beloved Minnesota inhabits. Here’s to a chaotic and unexpected 2021 College Football season; now bring on the bowls!
(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 King Kong Tier
#1 - Michigan Wolverines (4th, 4th, last week #2)
#2 - Iowa Hawkeyes (21st, 30th, last week #4)
The kings of the two Big Ten divisions reign supreme in this week’s power rankings. While we all know that Iowa isn’t a better team than Ohio State (and quite possibly a few other teams below them), these are the two that at the end of the day will have a chance at the throne for the 2021 season. These two teams are headed to Indianapolis with a Big Ten title on the line.
The KoKo the Monkey Tier
#3 - Ohio State Buckeyes (2nd, 2nd, last week #1)
You remember when George Constanza wanted his nickname to be T-Bone so he ordered a T-Bone steak for lunch? And then another co-worker ordered a T-Bone and that co-worker got the nickname instead of George? And then George ended up with the nickname of KoKo the monkey because he yelled at said co-worker with a banana in his hands and his arms waving wildly around like a monkey? Well, I have a feeling that after this past weekend, Ohio State and their fans feel an awful lot like Constanza. Brutal.
The Donkey Kong Tier
#4 - Minnesota Golden Gophers (23rd, 27th, last week #5)
#5 - Penn State Nittany Lions (15th, 16th, last week #8)
#6 - Michigan State Spartans (35th, 36th, last week #7)
#7 - Wisconsin Badgers (8th, 8th, last week #3)
For one reason or another, these teams were ultimately not nearly as successful as they wanted to be. Kind of link how Donkey Kong would feel in the original Donkey Kong game. One minute you’re on top of the world, the next some plumber in overalls is knocking you down a peg or two. All of these teams once stood at the top of their respective divisions with hopes of playing in Indianapolis but in the end, it wasn’t meant to be.
The Curious George Tier
#8 - Purdue Boilermakers (52nd, 21st, last week #8)
#9 - Illinois Fighting Illini (66th, 62nd, last week #9)
#10 - Maryland Terrapins (65th, 86th, last week #12)
Much like George, the monkey who always seems to be getting into precarious situations and causing mayhem, These teams were havoc-raisers throughout the conference season for those ranked above them. Purdue and Illinois especially were gigantic bumps in the road for the likes of teams with high aspirations and left a mess in their wake after various matchups involving Penn State, Iowa, and Minnesota, to name a few. Despite their attempts to be relevant, they always seemed to a have a more lovable loser quality to them as the season progressed, much like George, despite his trouble-making, was always a lovable monkey.
The Barrel of Monkeys Tier
#11 - Nebraska Cornhuskers (38th, 31st, last week #10)
#12 - Rutgers Scarlet Knights (85th, 87th, last week #11)
First off, both of these teams’ primary color is red. The version of Barrel of Monkeys that was in circulation when I was a kid featured all-red monkeys. Additionally, despite a seemingly decent concept and promising idea of a game, Barrel of Monkeys is super lame. The aspirations for both these teams heading into the season were high as was the hope within their respective fanbases. But at the end of the season, they just ended up with a lot of losses and several plastic monkeys.
The Jolly Chimp Tier
#13 - Northwestern Wildcats (107th, 108th, last week #13)
#14 - Indiana Hoosiers (93rd, 101st, last week #14)
You know the creepy-a$$ toy that is a monkey with cymbals? Well Wikipedia summarizes its purpose as such:
When activated it repeatedly bangs its cymbals together and, in some cases, bobs its head, chatters, screeches, grins, pops eyes out, does flips, and more.
Well, that sounds as disturbing as watching either of these teams’ on-field product this season, especially the thumping they both received in their big time rivalry games this past weekend. More like not-so-Jolly Chimp, amrite?!?!