Daily Blog • September 10, 2014

Phil Steele’s
Capital One Mascot Challenge
Week 3 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 3 rankings for the 16 mascots in this year’s challenge:

1. Cocky, South Carolina 74.68 – Cocky continues to live up to my preseason #1 rating as after blasting Sparty 80-20% in the opener, he wiped out Brutus Buckeye 84-16% last week. He should have another big win this week vs Minnesota’s Goldy Gopher.

2. Zippy, Akron 69.66 – I hope Zippy does not get caught looking ahead the next couple of weeks. Zippy, of course, not only won the Title in 2007, but went undefeated that year and has yet to lose in her 2nd year of the contest. Zippy has applied knockout blows to both Wilma Wildcat and Big Red of Arkansas the first 2 weeks and is a clear #2 in my rankings but does have showdown vs Cocky looming in Wk 5. This week’s opponent, Joe Bruin, who comes in at 2-0.

3. Aubie, Auburn 65.47 – Aubie came in #4 in my preseason mascot ratings and has lived up to that billing. After a closer than expected win over Arkansas’ Big Red in the opener, Aubie flexed his muscles last week and whipped Cy from Iowa St, 75-25%. Aubie enters the week as my #3 rated mascot overall.

4. Benny Beaver, Oregon St 61.21 – Benny Beaver has been the fastest riser of the mascots in this challenge. After not having much of a track record coming into this contest, Benny has opened a 74-26% win over Brutus Buckeye who at the time was ranked #2 and last week whipped Wilma Wildcat 70-30%. That has Benny Beaver going all the way from #13 up to this week’s #4 mascot.

5. Buzz, Georgia Tech 57.46 – As I mentioned in my preseason power ratings, Buzz has a decent track record in the mascot challenge. In Wk 1 he barely got past Spike and dropped a little in my rankings but that may have been an overreaction as Spike may be better than I thought. Last week Buzz crushed Otto, 61-39 and regained some points and this week takes on Wilma Wildcat with a great shot at moving to 3-0.

6. Big Red, WKU 57.43 – Last year, Big Red got off to a great start in the 2013 meter and has made a climb up the chart to open up 2014. After a tough loss to Otto Orange in the opener (51-49%) he got back on track last week blasting Goldy Gopher 65-35%. That moves Big Red from last week’s #13 rank to this week’s #6.

7. Joe Bruin, UCLA 56.84 – Joe Bruin continues to rise up in my rankings. I originally had him at #14 in the preseason but he’s jumped out to a 2-0 start with wins over Goldy Gopher (71-29%) and last week pulled an upset knocking off Buster Bronco of Boise in a tight one (54-46%). Joe Bruin has his work cut out for him this week going up against Zippy who remains undefeated in two years of mascot competition.

8. Sparty, Michigan St 56.26 – Last year, I was very impressed with Sparty the entire season but maybe he let that Rose Bowl victory go to his head and surprisingly has opened up the 2014 mascot challenge at 0-2. Last week Spike pulled the upset and it wasn’t even close (77-23%). It will be interesting to see who wins this week’s matchup vs Sparty and Big Red of Western Kentucky.

9. Brutus Buckeye, Ohio St 56.24 – Brutus has a large amount of followers on Twitter and the most alumni of any mascot but has been surprisingly noncompetitive the first two weeks getting blasted by Benny Beaver 74-26% and then an expected loss to Cocky last week. He has gone from my preseason #2 mascot all the way down to #9. It’s SEC vs Big Ten this week as he takes on Aubie the Tiger.

10. Buster Bronco, Boise St 55.75 – Buster Bronco entered the year in the middle of the road in my rankings, got a solid win in the opener vs Cy but last week was upset by Joe Bruin, although it was a close contest (54-46%). Joe Bruin is now #7 in my power ratings and this week Buster clashes with 0-2 Big Red (Arkansas) in an interesting matchup.

11. Spike, Citadel 54.87 – Spike gets my attention each week with numerous posts to my @PhilSteele042 Twitter account. Spike is taking this contest seriously and in Wk 1 came up just short against Buzz but took on powerhouse Sparty last week and crushed him 77-23%. I have retweeted Spike many times in these past few weeks and look for him to continue to rise in the rankings. Spike is favored for the first time in the contest this week vs Otto.

12. Cy, Iowa St 53.84 – I have great respect for mascots who have won previous championships as Cy did in 2008. Cy had a tough opening game effort against Buster Bronco coming up just short 51-49% and evidentially that had him a little worn out last week as he was whipped by Aubie 75-25%. Cy now takes on my #4 rated mascot in Benny Beaver so the road doesn’t get any easier.

13. Otto Orange, Syracuse 53.92 – Otto had a big opening game effort vs Big Red at WKU which he won 51-49% but much like I mentioned under Big Red, maybe that took a little out of him. This past week he lost to Buzz, 61-39%. It’ll be interesting to see how Otto fares vs the up-and-coming Spike.

14. Goldy Gopher, Minnesota 49.73 – It has been a disappointing start for Goldy Gopher. Goldy Gopher has scored just 29% and 35% of the vote the first two weeks against Joe Bruin and Western Kentucky’s Big Red. Things do not figure to get much better this week as he takes on my #1 rated mascot, Cocky.

15. Wilma T. Wildcat, Arizona 48.99 – Wilma Wildcat has taken on a couple of tough mascots to open facing my #2 mascot Zippy in the opener and losing 85-15% and then last week the underrated Benny Beaver who is #4 in my rankings. Things don’t get much easier for Wilma this week as she takes on my #5 rated mascot in Buzz.

16. Big Red, Arkansas 48.79 – I had Big Red ranked #15 in my preseason power ratings and he has opened up 0-2 which has dropped him to #16. He remains #16, however, as I will note that his first two opponents are both in my Top 3 in Zippy (#2) and Aubie (#3) so he has faced the toughest schedule of any of the mascots.