I’m only going to say this once: the MASCOTS are fighting to the death, NOT the nicknames. Let’s do this.
#1 Alabama vs. #20 USC
Alabama’s mascot is Big Al, one of the undisputed greatest in the game. However, he’s not exactly the most menacing mascot of the bunch, and in this week’s matchup he goes up against Traveler, who could literally kick his head off. Not that Traveler needs any help here, but there’s also a guy on his back with a sword just in case Big Al gets a few lucky strikes in. I have just now learned that this guy is NOT actually Tommy Trojan, just an unnamed jockey steering Traveler to an easy victory in Week 1.
#2 Clemson vs. Auburn
Clemson has two mascots: The Tiger (right) and The Cub. In the other corner, Auburn has just the one tiger, Aubie. Apparently the live eagle (of War Eagle) is not actually considered a mascot, which is a shame because then Auburn would stand a chance in this fight. (Aside to Auburn: not only is Tigers a boring-ass nickname, but you might be the third-best Tigers in your own conference. You should just be called the Auburn War Eagles. You’re welcome.) Anyway, Aubie’s best hope is probably to go after The Cub first, in hopes that The Tiger might quickly concede the fight to save its offspring. However, one look into The Tiger’s eyes would suggest that this is not a rational thinker. A second look turns you to stone. This is Aubie’s fate. Clemson wins bigly.
#3 Oklahoma vs. #15 Houston
This is a very complicated matchup. Oklahoma has Boomer and Sooner, these two horsey guys with fingers. It also has the Sooner Schooner (apparently considered an official mascot!), which is a big old wagon pulled by two real horseys with hooves and piloted by a number of humans. Houston has Shasta, a person in a cougar costume, as well as Shasta VI, an actual cougar. What a melee!
(Not really. The live cougar kills everyone, including the guy in the Shasta costume. Please enjoy this video of the Sooner Schooner falling down.)
#4 Florida State vs. #11 Ole Miss
Florida State sends the maybe-problematic-depending-on-whom-you-ask Chief Osceola and his horse, Renegade, into combat against [has to Google this one] Rebel Black Bear. On the one hand, at least it’s not Colonel Reb anymore; on the other hand, why isn’t it Admiral Ackbar? On both hands, this dumb bear stands no chance against a guy with a spear and a horse.
#5 LSU vs. Wisconsin
Mike the Tiger is both a guy in a costume and a live tiger. Bucky (full name Buckingham U. Badger, I swear this is real) is just a guy in a costume. The X-factor in this matchup is cancer, not because it is Wisconsin’s other mascot, but because Mike VI is still recovering from it. That being said, even if Mike VI added nothing to this fight, Costume Mike would still have a pretty good chance of subduing Bucky 1-on-1. Mike VI contributes just enough to slay the badger-man.
#6 Ohio State vs. Bowling Green
Bowling Green has two falcon mascots, Freddie and Frieda. Brutus looks like he could withstand a few blows to the head, but eventually two falcons are just going to be too much for the present-day incarnation. The original Brutus, though? Indestructible.
#7 Michigan vs. Hawaii
The fact that Michigan does not have a mascot is so infuriatingly Michigan. Hawaii also appears to be between mascots after phasing out Vili the Warrior a few years back. Hawaii wins because they’re not insufferable.
#8 Stanford vs. Kansas State
Let’s start with Kansas State, because that one is straightforward. Their mascot is Willie the Wildcat, which it appears is a white football player doing an impression of Lee Corso predicting that Kansas State will win. In the other corner is the Stanford Tree, which looks like, um, we don’t actually know yet what it looks like this year but will find out Friday night. It has looked like these in a few past years, so expect something similar, but since it’s Stanford also expect something IRREVERANT AND OUTRAGEOUSLY BIZARRE. Basically the question is do you think Willie the Wildcat can tackle a Christmas tree? I think yes, so despite my position that Willie is one of the laziest mascots out there, he still comes out on top.
#9 Tennessee vs. Appalachian State
So this game already happened, but that shouldn’t mean it’s too late to preview it. Tennessee has Smokey, which you probably predicted is both an actual bluetick coonhound and a human in a bluetick coonhound costume. Appalachian State has Yosef, who is a frail old man, yes, but he is also carrying. An armed society is a polite and Smokey-less society.
#10 Notre Dame vs. Texas
Bevo XV debuts Saturday! (Here’s Bevo XIV before he died of bovine leukemia. That isn’t funny, why am I talking about that?) Texas also has Hook ‘Em, which, whatever, both of these could easily take care of the Leprechaun.
#12 Michigan State vs. Furman
Furman’s mascot is the Paladin, and he rides a horse named Fury. I think the bit about the horse is important, because Sparty could probably dust off the Paladin with relative ease, but I don’t think he has it in him to take down Fury too.
#13 TCU vs. South Dakota State
Super Frog is, uh, something. I think it’s technically a lizard, or maybe a late-blooming triceratops. In any event, it takes on the other SDSU’s Jackrabbit, which a few years ago was finally named via an online vote. Can you guess what name they came up with? Out of the whole entire internet, the best idea anyone submitted was ... Jack. Jack Rabbit. No, really. That’s his name now. Here’s the dramatic reveal of the new name, which was a real thing that actually happened. I know I shouldn’t be criticizing a team called the Jackrabbits for a lack of creativity, but goddammit guys. Even Jackrabbity McJackrabbitface would have been better than this. None of what I just said is related to Jack the Jackrabbit fighting a horned frog to the death, of course, it just makes me angry. I’m giving the fight to Super Frog because it might be poisonous.
#14 Washington vs. Rutgers
I was aware of Harry the Husky (person in costume), but I just now learned about Dubs (actual husky). Dubs is a good doggie. Also, Harry has undergone a redesign since the last time I saw him, and I say he’s improved. I still think this duo lose to the Scarlet Knight, but only because Muscle Guzzle is not a banned substance in this competition:
#16 UCLA vs. Texas A&M
Texas A&M has Reveille, another good doggie. UCLA trots out Joe and Josephine Bruin, two humans in bear costumes. 2 against 1 means there’s trouble ... bruin’ ... for Reveille. I’m so tired. Only 7 games to go!
#17 Iowa vs. Miami of Ohio
Some people really like it when you call it Miami of Ohio. Anyway, Herky the Hawk is a tough SOB. Here’s a drawing of Herky in a singlet, because Iowa. Swoop the Redhawk is no slouch either, but I did not find a drawing of Swoop in a singlet, so Herky wins on points. Or because Swoop eventually dies; I’m not sure I completely understand what’s going on here.
#18 Georgia vs. #22 North Carolina
At this point, my favorite thing about two ranked teams playing one another is that it saves me a paragraph. Georgia has both Uga and Harry Dawg, who posed together while Harry took care of some business. North Carolina has Rameses and Rameses Jr. (costumed persons) and also Rameses the live ram and his, um, Rameses Juniors. Uga looks lazy as hell, so I’ll take the two ram-humans and one live ram and one gigantic ram sack over one rogue-shitting bulldog-human and one lazy-ass live bulldog. I’m very proud of that last sentence.
#19 Louisville vs. Charlotte
#21 Oklahoma State vs. Southeastern Louisiana
#23 Baylor vs. Northwestern State
Baylor’s mascots are two very real, very large bears named Joy and Lady. Northwestern State’s mascot, Vic the Demon, is honestly just sad. No contest. However, since it’s Friday, here’s a video of one of Baylor’s bears in their homecoming parade:
#24 Oregon vs. UC Davis
I always thought the duck was named Puddles or Quackers or some shit, but apparently he’s just The Oregon Duck. I was pumped as hell when I found out Davis’s mascot is Gunrock the Mustang, but it was pretty disappointing to find out that he’s basically just a suffocating John Elway. The Duck is in great shape and seems like he should be able to vanquish the dumb blue horse.
#25 Florida vs. Massachusetts
Florida sends out Albert and Alberta Alligator, who look pretty tough. UMass rolls with Sam the Minuteman, who did not appear to be armed in any of the photos I saw of him. Even if he was, his 240-year-old technology probably wouldn’t even pierce the hide of a gator. He’s toast.
It’s over! Go home and watch football now!