Daily Blog • November 18, 2014

Phil Steele’s
Capital One Mascot Challenge
Week 13 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 13 rankings for the 16 mascots in this year’s challenge:

1. Aubie, Auburn 79.49 – Aubie narrowly hung on to his #1 spot, despite an impressive performance over the course of the program. Just on the heels of beating Zippy at 57–43%, he took on Spike, who came in with nine wins under his belt, and beat him a convincingly 59-41%. Both Aubie and Joe Bruin own wins over five ranked mascots this year and this week Aubie matches up vs Western Kentucky’s Big Red, who he did not face during the season. I’ve seen #1 rated mascots go down in the playoffs before but you would have to think Aubie’s got a good shot at winning this week.

2. Joe Bruin, UCLA 79.41 – Joe Bruin has made a steady climb up the rankings and even occupied the #1 spot for a week. Joe Bruin had an impressive finish to the regular season and is just points away from being the #1 mascot. After beating Cocky 63-37%, he dispatched current #7 WKU’s Big Red 61-39%. That puts him .08 from being #1 but now that the playoffs are here, the power ratings are insignificant as it’s basically win 3 matchups and win the title. Joe Bruin has an excellent shot at doing that. This week he matches up vs Benny Beaver who he beat, 63-37%, back in week eight and is a good sized favorite.

3. Buzz, Georgia Tech 75.97 – I was very impressed with Buzz last week knocking off Zippy, 52-48%. Buzz only has two losses this year, with one to current #1 Aubie, 63-37%, and the other to current #2, Joe Bruin, 53-47%. He does own wins over #4 Cocky, #5 Spike, #6 Zippy, #7 WKU’s Big Red and #8 Benny Beaver so he has played, arguably, the toughest schedule of any of the mascots taking on each one in the playoffs. Not only is this week’s game a rematch, it’s a rewind as Buzz just beat Zippy by 4% last week.

4. Cocky, South Carolina 74.64 – Cocky was my preseason #1 mascot and occupied that spot all the way until he loss in week seven to Buzz, 51-49%. Just two weeks later, Cocky sustained another narrow loss to current #1 Aubie, 52-48%. There was a surprising loss in week 11 to then #1 Joe Bruin, 62-38%. Cocky bounced back last week keeping Big Red of Arkansas out of the playoffs with a 64-36% win. This helped him move up a notch in my mascot meter from #5 to #4 this week as his losses have been against the #1, #2 and #3 mascots while Spike’s losses were to the #3, #6 and #8 mascots. I have heard a lot about strength of losses in the current battle to get into one of the four playoff spots in the FBS. My computer called for Cocky to win this week by less than a point so it should be a great battle.

5. Spike, Citadel 74.01 – I have enjoyed following Spike in more ways than one this year. Each week I get a few tweets from Spike, one of the hardest working mascots. Unfortunately, a closely fought losing battle with Aubie dropped him to 9-3 on the season. Rankings don’t mean much once you’re in the playoffs so Spike can quickly correct that. It’s an interesting battle this week as Spike takes on Cocky, the mascot that just jumped up in the rankings. These two did not face during the regular season and as you can tell by my computer’s rankings, I expect this one to go right down to the wire.

6. Zippy, Akron 72.33 – Zippy has not been able to duplicate her last time in the contest when she was undefeated and won the title but at least she still has the chance to win the title this year. Last week, she had a close loss to current #3 Buzz, 52-48%, which is actually her 4th loss of the year. One of the losses was to current #2 Joe Bruin by a 51-49% margin and another to current #4 Cocky, 51-49%. This week Zippy gets a rematch with Buzz and with last week’s game going right down to the wire, I would expect much of the same. Zippy is the only female mascot that made the playoffs (only 2 girls in the contest) and that makes her one of my daughter’s favorites.

7. Big Red, WKU 67.22 – I was very impressed with Big Red’s performance down the stretch. I have to admit, a of couple weeks ago, I thought he was a clear #8 mascot but he knocked off Benny Beaver two weeks ago and last week had the misfortune of running into the #2 mascot Joe Bruin, losing 61-39%. Hopefully he didn’t expend too much energy last week as now he is matched up against #1 seed Aubie the Tiger. Big Red has the toughest task of any other mascot this week.

8. Benny Beaver, Oregon St 65.55 – Interestingly in the playoff matchups, I had Benny Beaver as my #8 rated mascot due to his head-to-head loss to WKU’s Big Red who also finished 7-5. I also had Aubie ranked ahead of Joe Bruin but Benny gets matched up vs my #2 Joe Bruin in week one of the playoffs. Benny did need to win last week to make the playoffs, dispatching Sparty 68-32%. He is matched up vs 5 mascots that made the playoffs last year and dropped all 5 but did have a close battle vs Buzz only losing 51-49%. Benny did lose a meeting in week eight vs Joe Bruin, 63-37%, and will be seeking revenge.

9. Big Red, Arkansas 60.33 – Big Red started low in my mascot meter rankings but moved into the top 10 in week five and never moved out. He was a legitimate playoff contender down the stretch. Big Red only lost to current #1 Aubie by 55-45% in week one, to Benny Beaver 51-49% in week four and to current #2 Joe Bruin 60-40% in week six, all solid numbers. That Benny Beaver loss turned out to be the difference of being in the playoffs and being out of it as had that tight loss been a win, Big Red would have been 7-5 and the #7 or #8 seed in the playoffs. Last week he had the misfortune of taking on power Cocky and lost 64-36% in the final game but still finished 6-6 and #9 overall rank. That’s a pretty good year and exceeded my preseason expectations.

10. Otto the Orange, Syracuse 57.84 – Otto did knock off one of this year’s playoff mascots in week one, 51-49%, and had a decent year with records of 2-2, 3-3 and 4-4. In the game that probably cost him a good shot at the playoffs, he lost to Benny Beaver 51-49% in week nine. Two weeks later he then lost to Arkansas’ Big Red, 61-39%. It was a nice finish to the year knocking off Buster Bronco in the finale, 52-48%, but at least Otto has a top 10 finish in the rankings, a spot he occupied the last eight weeks of the regular season.

11. Sparty, Michigan St 54.52 – Sparty’s season surprised me this year as he was in the contest last year and did quite well. He opened up against three of the toughest mascots and lost all three games but, after an 0-4 start, actually went 4-4 down the stretch showing his potential. Last week it was a 68-32% loss to Benny Beaver so he finishes off the year 4-8 and stays at #11 spot where he’s been for six of the last eight weeks.

12. Buster Bronco, Boise St 54.39 – Buster Bronco showed some promise early on beating Cy the Cardinal in week one. Then almost upsetting, current #2 Joe Bruin, by only losing 54-46% and had a narrow loss to Arkansas’ Big Red 53-47%. In week eight he almost upset another mascot in the playoffs, Big Red from WKU 53-47%, and his only other two wins came against Wilma T. Wildcat and Goldy Gopher who finished the year a combined 1-23. Buster Bronco got as high as #7 in my ratings this year but finishes #12.

13. Cy, Iowa St 53.28 – Back in week nine I mentioned that Cy had a good shot at winning three of his last four games despite the fact that he came in with an 0-8 record. I pointed out that he was taking on the other three winless mascots and Cy swept the board beating Brutus, 63-37%, Goldy, 65-35%, and last week only got pass Wilma T. Wildcat, 52-48%. Cy’s other best two games were in week three, almost upsetting Benny Beaver 52-48%  and in week one a narrow loss to Buster Bronco, 51-49%. My computer does count head-to-head, with Buster Bronco finishing 1 notch above Cy, despite both mascots finishing 3-9.

14. Goldy Gopher, Minnesota 47.25 – Goldy did a great job last week as he had been in the basement for seven consecutive weeks at #16 and came into the battle with Brutus Buckeye at 0-11. Goldy didn’t just win, but controlled the game winning 64-36% to get his first and only win of the season. As I’ve mentioned many times my daughter has a Goldy Gopher stuffed animal so it was good to see him escape the basement.

15. Wilma T. Wildcat, Arizona 46.28 – Wilma T. Wildcat was one of just two girls in this year’s contest. Surprisingly she did not fare as well as she did the last time she was in it. Last week Wilma T. Wildcat did take Cy the Cardinal down to the wire trying to avoid a winless season but lost a narrow one 52-48%. While both Wilma and Brutus finished 0-12, Wilma T. Wildcat did not have any losses to winless mascots while Brutus has two.

16. Brutus Buckeye, Ohio St 43.43 – I had expected Brutus to be a playoff contender but it was a 0-12 season for Brutus Buckeye. He had a rough start going 0-7 vs ranked mascots but then in the final 5 weeks, lost to a then 0-8 Cy the Cardinal and last week to 0-11 Goldy Gopher. That locked up the basement spot for him. Hopefully the next time Brutus Buckeye is in the contest, Buckeye nation will get behind him and that will be a powerful force.