Daily Blog • November 4, 2014

Phil Steele’s
Capital One Mascot Challenge
Week 11 Power Ratings

I have used many different factors in compiling my rankings from total social media following to alumni networks to the opinions of my 8-year-old daughter, 20-year-old daughter and 82-year-old mother.

The factors are all weighted differently. For example, I place more weight on current social media presence and school enrollment than the volume of alumni networks as the challenge relies heavily on fans voting online and through social media channels. This year’s voting structure provides fans three ways to catapult their mascot to victory. By clicking “vote now,” fans earn one (1) point for their mascot. To go even further in expressing their enthusiasm, fans can complete weekly 50-point and/or 100-point challenges by posting clever entries on Twitter or Facebook using their mascot’s unique hashtag.

This year’s contest actually has THREE mascots that have won the title. Cocky of South Carolina won it in 2005, Zippy of Akron won it all in 2007 and Cy the Cardinal from Iowa State was the 2008 champ.

Voting opens Monday, August 25, 2014 at 12:00AM EDT and will continue weekly through Sunday, December 7, 2014.  Fans can visit www.CapitalOneMascots.com for all voting information as well as engage with the mascots and other fans at www.Facebook.com/CapitalOne and www.Twitter.com/CapitalOne.

Every year there have been underdog mascots that rise to the top and I will update the rankings weekly during the season with comments on each mascot’s 2014 performance. Below are my Week 11 rankings for the 16 mascots in this year’s challenge:

1. Aubie, Auburn 77.33 – Aubie has lived up to my #1 rating for the last 2 weeks knocking off powerful Cocky and then last week obliterating Sparty, 95-5%. Imagine if Auburn had handled Michigan St like that on the football field it would have been one of the marquee games of the year. Aubie’s undefeated mark will clearly be tested these final 2 weeks as he takes on 2 of the toughest mascots in the competition: Zippy and Spike.

2. Joe Bruin, UCLA 76.23 – Only two mascots remain undefeated this year and Joe Bruin moves to a perfect 10-0 with a 72-28% win over Wilma T. Wildcat. This week Joe has a huge showdown with Preseason #1 Cocky – one of his last big showdowns 2 weeks before the playoffs.

3. Buzz, Georgia Tech 74.72 – Buzz moved up to #3 last week and proved worthy of that move by belting #8 Big Red of Western Kentucky 61-39%. This week’s opponent, Buster Bronco can be dangerous as he only lost to #2 Joe Bruin by 8 earlier this year and cannot afford to lose focus by looking ahead to his showdown with #5 Zippy next week.

4. Cocky, South Carolina 74.18 – Cocky does not like to lose. He was my Preseason #1 mascot and after a loss to Buzz in Wk 7, he waxed Wilma T. Wildcat 94-6% in Wk 8. After losing to #1 Aubie in Wk 9, he took on a solid Otto the Orange last week who came in 4-5 and inches away from a winning record. Cocky made sure it was no contest. Unlike the football team which has blown 3 double digit leads in the 4Q, Cocky put the peddle down late and won convincingly 84-16%. This week Cocky takes on #2 Joe Bruin and can find himself moving back up in the mascot rankings after a rare drop to #4 last week.

5. Zippy, Akron 73.87 – Zippy took care of state rival Brutus Buckeye and did so in a convincing fashion 92-8% last week. While Zippy is #5 right now, she can easily move way up into the mascot rankings as she faces #1 Aubie this week and #4 Buzz next week. Zippy has 2 losses in her 2 years of the contest and they have both been by a narrow margin, 51-49%, to #2 Joe Bruin and #4 Cocky and I give her a shot at pulling the upset this week vs #1 Aubie.

6. Spike, Citadel 72.50 – Spike began the year #16 in the mascot challenge and has climbed all the way up to #6 and looks solid each week. Last week he showed there was a clear difference between #6 and #7 by beating Benny Beaver 63-37%. Spike only has Wilma T. Wildcat this week as he anticipates a showdown with #1 Aubie next week. Spike keeps me posted weekly through Twitter @PhilSteele042.

7. Benny Beaver, Oregon St 64.22 – Benny dropped to 6-4 last week and the losses have all been to the big boys losing to #1 Aubie, #2 Joe Bruin, #3 Buzz and now #6 Spike. Benny has still not clinched a playoff spot and needs to beat Big Red of Western Kentucky this week to hang on to his #7 ranking.

8. Big Red, WKU 59.39 – Big Red appears to be in great shape to make the playoffs but upon closer inspection Big Red will be an underdog to both Benny Beaver and #2 Joe Bruin in the final two weeks which would open up the door to mascots like Otto the Orange who sits on the bubble along with Big Red of Arkansas. This is a big week for Big Red as he can secure a spot in the playoffs with a win and move up to #7 in the mascot meter.

9. Big Red, Arkansas 59.24 – Big Red opened up 0-2 but all 5 of his losses this year have been to Top 7 mascots. He is 3-1 the last 4 weeks, his only loss to #3 Buzz and took care of business vs a respectable Cy the Cardinal last week, 68-32%. Big Red will be favored this week over Otto the Orange who passed him in the mascot meter standings as he moves from #10 to #9 and a playoff berth could come down to his battle the final week vs Cocky.

10. Otto the Orange, Syracuse 59.01 – Last week was surprising as Otto had been doing well but was blasted by Cocky 84-16%. While you would think that loss would almost eliminate Otto from the playoffs, the #8 mascot Big Red of Western Kentucky will be an underdog in his last 2 matchups and Otto will be favored in the final 2 AND owns the tie-breaker over Big Red. Don’t discount Otto from the playoffs despite last week’s poor performance.

11. Buster Bronco, Boise St 55.91 – Buster Bronco looked good last week vs #16 Goldy Gopher winning 74-26% picking up his second win in 4 weeks. This week he runs into Buzz but Buster has been competitive almost every week and should make a contest of it.

12. Sparty, Michigan St 53.88 – Sparty was great in the contest last year but has been disappointing this year. After showing signs of life the previous week vs Joe Bruin only losing 67-33%, Sparty got wiped out by Aubie last week 95-5%. Michigan St and Ohio St square off this week for the Big Ten East Title and the two mascots square off as well. Sparty is favored in both.

13. Cy, Iowa St 53.24 – A few weeks ago there were 4 winless mascots then Cy knocked off Brutus Buckeye and I mentioned at the time that he also faced the other two winless mascots and had a shot at improving to 3 or 4 wins. Last week’s loss to Big Red puts a cap on his win total at 3 this year but he’ll be favored in both the final weeks and could make a solid showing out the door with the possibility of winning 3 of his last 4 after a slow start.

14. Wilma T. Wildcat, Arizona 47.08 – Yes, Wilma remains winless and figures to be so again this week vs Spike. At least she’s being competitive. Last week vs #2 Joe Bruin she only lost 72-28%.

15. Brutus Buckeye, Ohio St 45.45 – Brutus’ disappointing season continues after a 92-8% loss to state rival Zippy last week. Brutus had been showing signs of progress getting 38 and 37% of the vote vs Otto the Orange and Cy the Cardinal the previous 2 weeks. This week he takes on 3-7 Sparty and has a shot at finally getting that first win of the year, but he will be the underdog.

16. Goldy Gopher, Minnesota 45.02 – Goldy Gopher has lost to six of the Top 8 mascots. Unfortunately, he has also lost to 4 of the bottom 8 mascots. Last week’s matchup was his 2nd closest of the year “only” losing to Buster Bronco 74-26%. The good news for Goldy is he’s got an excellent shot to end the winless streak as he faces 1-9 Cy the Cardinal and 0-10 Brutus Buckeye the last 2 weeks.