Daily Blog • September 30, 2014

Phil Steele’s
Capital One Mascot Challenge
Week 6 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 6 rankings for the 16 mascots in this year’s challenge:

1. Cocky, South Carolina 75.43 – My @philsteele042 Twitter Mascot Matchup of the Week lived up to its billing as Cocky survived a tough battle with Zippy, escaping with a 51-49% win. There will be more tough tests for Cocky in the coming weeks, but I had Cocky #1 in the preseason and while his power rating has slightly dropped due to his close win, he remains the clear #1 mascot.

2. Aubie, Auburn 73.46 – I had Aubie #4 in my preseason rankings at the beginning of the year and he got off to a slow start, beating Big Red of Arkansas by only 55-45%. Since then, though, Aubie has crushed his 4 mascot foes by an average of 85-15%. In week 6, Aubie will face Benny Beaver, which will be the first time he faces a mascot that currently sits in the top half of my rankings.

3. Joe Bruin, UCLA 71.97 – Joe climbs from #4 to #3 this week after an impressive 73-27% win over Otto the Orange. Joe Bruin started low in my rankings, but he has clearly earned his spot after beating both Zippy and Buzz, my #4 and #5 mascots.

4. Zippy, Akron 71.95 – You’re probably wondering why I have a 3-2 mascot ranked ahead of four 4-1 mascots. When Zippy was last in the contest, she did not lose a single match, going undefeated and winning the title. Now in her 2nd year of the challenge, Zippy already has 2 losses; the first to my #3 mascot Joe Bruin, by just 51-49% and the second to my #1 rated Cocky by the same 51-49% margin. She is mere percentage points away from being unbeaten in her 2 years in the challenge and despite losing to Cocky, she actually moved up in my power ratings from 70.58 to 71.95.

5. Buzz, Georgia Tech 66.42 – While last week my power ratings had Benny Beaver 0.1 ahead of Buzz (61.94 to 61.93), I mentioned to some in my inner circle that I thought that Buzz would get the win. As you would expect in such a tight battle, it went down to the wire and Buzz did prevail, 51-49%. Buzz now has 2 wins over top 7 mascots and has only lost to the #3 ranked Joe Bruin. He is a huge favorite over Brutus Buckeye this week, but has a big matchup on the horizon when he faces off against #1 Cocky in next week’s showdown.

6. Spike, Citadel 65.51 – I’ve mentioned this a few times, but unlike the BCS formula over the past few years -- where margin of victory was not taken into account -- I do include margin of victory, both in my personal and computer rankings. Interestingly, Spike and Benny Beaver both have 51-49% losses to Buzz this year, but Spike surges ahead of Benny Beaver this week by virtue of his margin of victory over Brutus Buckeye, beating him 91-9% last week; while Benny Beaver only beat Brutus 74-26% earlier in the year. Also, Spike @spiketbulldog frequently tweets me at @philsteele042 so I know that he’s trying hard and the proof is in the pudding as he is now 4-1 with 4 dominating wins since his opening week loss.

7. Benny Beaver, Oregon St 65.48 – Last week I pointed out that Benny Beaver had not yet beaten any of my top 8 mascots, but he proved worthy of last week’s #5 ranking, taking Buzz down to the wire. Still, he lost his head to head with Buzz, dropping him in the rankings to #7. Benny has a huge battle this week with Aubie -- make sure you check out my Twitter @philsteele042 to see if that game makes it as my Matchup of the Week.

8. Big Red, WKU 60.15 – Big Red remains #8 in my mascot rankings although Big Red’s overall power rating dropped slightly. Last week, Big Red took on 0-5 Cy the Cardinal and only won 51-49%. Additionally, Big Red only beat Brutus Buckeye 59-41% earlier this year, a close margin considering Brutus’ last close loss was 74-26%. Big Red will have his hands full this week with Zippy, but a win over the defending champion would move him up in the rankings.

9. Big Red, Arkansas 58.38 – While Big Red stumbled to a 2-3 record, it should be noted that he has a pair of close losses to my #2 mascot Aubie (55-45%) and #7 Benny Beaver (49-51%),  with a loss to Zippy also on the books. Last week Big Red took care of business, polishing off Wilma T. Wildcat 79-21% and this week will have to prove if he’s a playoff contender as he takes on the undefeated Joe Bruin.

10. Otto the Orange, Syracuse 56.75 – If Otto the Orange had given a tougher test to Joe Bruin I might have kept him in the #9 spot, but losing 73-27% has him dropping to #10. Otto the Orange’s 4 losses have all been to mascots that rank in the upper half of the rankings, so I still give him a good shot at moving into the upper half of the rankings by the end of the year and consider him a favorite vs Goldy Gopher this week.

11. Sparty, Michigan St 54.72 – Sparty finally got his first win as he took care of Goldy Gopher 80-20%. Coming into this contest, I had Sparty my #3 rated mascot as he had a powerful season last year, only losing to the top-ranked mascots. While he has already lost to Spike, Big Red and Cocky this year, it really surprised me that he lost to Otto the Orange 78-22% two weeks ago. However, with his win in Week 5 perhaps the Spartan nation has woken up and will support Sparty the rest of the year, turning him into a surprise playoff contender. Interestingly, the Big Ten mascots heading into last week were a combined 0-16 but in the Big Ten vs Big Ten battle, Sparty prevailed in the dominating win.

12. Buster Bronco, Boise St 54.21 – Buster Bronco has losses to my #2, #3 and #4 mascots and a close loss to #8 Big Red. This week he gets the unfortunate task of taking on Cocky. Last week’s loss was Buster’s first major defeat as Aubie whipped him 86-14%. Good luck this week Buster.

13. Cy, Iowa St 54.08 – Believe it or not, Cy the Cardinal is a defending champion, winning a Mascot Challenge in the past, making him a threat to return to that championship form at any time. Last week he took on a mascot in the upper half of the rankings, barely losing 51-49% to Big Red. Unfortunately for Cy, his next 2 contests are vs Spike and Zippy, two of the top mascots in the challenge. Despite his 0-5 record, 2 losses were by a 51-49% margin and the other 3 were to top 8 mascots. Last week’s loss was close so he actually moved up from 53.77 to 54.08 in my mascot meter.

14. Brutus Buckeye, Ohio St 44.49 – It has been a very disappointing season for Brutus Buckeye. After showing some signs of life two weeks back, only losing to Big Red of Western Kentucky 59-41%, he was blasted by the fast rising Spike 91-9%. Of the 3 mascots at the bottom of the ratings, Brutus has the biggest average margin of defeat, losing his matchups by an average of 80-20%. Unfortunately for Brutus, he faces 2 more top 8 mascots on the horizon – Buzz and Joe Bruin.

15. Wilma T. Wildcat, Arizona 47.48 – Wilma T. Wildcat has escaped the basement but it wasn’t due to her performance on the field. She lost last week to Big Red of Arkansas 79-21%, the first non-top 7 mascot that she had faced this year. Analyzing the margin of defeats, my computer sees that Wilma has lost her games by a 77.8 to 22.2% average, which is slightly better than Goldy Gopher; just enough for her to move from #16 to #15 by .05 point.

16. Goldy Gopher, Minnesota 47.43 – Well someone from the Big Ten had to win eventually, and in the matchup of Goldy vs Sparty, it was no contest as Sparty rolled to an 80-20% win. Goldy has now dropped all 5 matchups, and although 4 have been vs mascots that have ranked in the upper half of the rankings, his average loss is by 78.2 to 21.8; enough to drop him from #15 to #16 in the mascot meter.