No. 3 Florida State
Beset on all sides by threats, but still sitting on a valuable piece of football property it almost owns completely, the EU of college football, the ACC. Europe would rather be watching basketball, is overly proud of public transit, and thinks New York is what America is really like.
If this does not move you, extend the comparisons a little further. UNC is France, rich and full of surrender. The University of Miami is Italy, because they're periodically great in between bouts of grandiose corruption. Notre Dame is Turkey, because they're not full members and are doing pretty well following long, nostalgia-poisoned malaise. Wake Forest is probably San Marino. Ireland is Syracuse, because no one remembers if they're in or whether they want to be in in the first place.
Florida State, like anyone holding Europe, is just hoping everyone else gets kneecapped. There is not much they can do with the hand they've got, but they can hope everyone else falls down a well. They are all too happy to help.
Duke's in Iceland, waiting to crash FSU's party. Like Iceland, Duke's a fine bunch of people you tend to forget about. [Update: Pretend Duke is Georgia Tech.]
No. 1 Alabama
DAMN RIGHT THE TIDE ARE THE U S OF A. And Canada and Mexico, a necessary combination of territories some Alabama fans will point out assumes the coming of the New World Order. That's a mindless conspiracy theory, but do consider the kind of linemen you can pull from Alberta and some of the outstanding running backs Nick Saban would sign off the soccer fields of Mexico City. Get that midfielder on a proper training table, son, and you got yourself a Heisman contender.
Alabama's camping out on territory similar to FSU's, albeit with fewer external threats. Their dangers are predictable: No. 14 Auburn and maybe No. 10 Georgia are the national debt and collapsing infrastructure. (Map distortion leads UGA to look like a larger threat than it actually presents, but it's still a threat.) Alabam-erica is fine unless either or both comes crashing down at the last second.
The Tide are also big, strong, and -- as spread coaches all too happily point out -- sometimes a little heavy on the hoof when faced with more nimble competition. Just like America, man. Just like America.
No. 2 Oregon
Sitting comfortably in the home of the beautiful game, Oregon is secure as long as it takes care of its chief threats and finishes the season with a nearly clean sheet.
There is the No. 9 UCLA uprising in Patagonia the Ducks might want to quash once and for all, but only if the Bruins don't do that for themselves first. This might be the best plan, since the first rule of surviving Pac-12 football is "don't do anything, and see if the other team shoots itself in the leg first, because it definitely will do that exact thing."
Like Argentina, overvaluation and the corresponding brutal market corrections have beaten the Bruins up, but failed to totally eliminate them.
No. 7 Baylor
One of those Risk games where you roll well, but still end up fighting over the same desperate stretch of territory with some jerk. That jerk for Baylor is TCU; for TCU, that jerk is Baylor. If their neighbors stumble, they're capable of breaking out with alarming speed, but getting loose of their position is step one, and it's a huge step. They also get very little out of the territory they chose in the first three moves of the game. No one respects a quality seizure of the United Pony Emirates anymore, man.
No. 5 TCU
I put both Baylor and TCU around the Middle East because, like Texas, it's hot, it has lots of oil, and no one ever misses church.
The chief difference is positioning. TCU has a better chance at the moment to take land if either FSU or Oregon slips, thanks to a marginally better schedule.
No. 6 Ohio State
If you can hold Asia, you can win the game easily, which means maybe Alabama belongs here, since the SEC champion is a lock for a title spot most years. Screw Risk's points system.
Instead, think of Ohio State ruling over the metaphorical steppes of the Big Ten. Sure, it's mostly empty space, but it belongs to the Buckeyes and the Buckeyes alone, and they rule it with a despot's temper and brutal methods. Once they clear out that insurrection in Kamchatka, they've got this place locked down, if they don't succumb to external threats.
No. 16 Wisconsin is waiting out the last rounds in the coldest corner of the board, which is precisely where Wisconsin should be. Probably get the dice one more time, and when you roll enough sixes, you can ruin anyone's day. Melvin Gordon is the pair of loaded dice to use only in emergency. This is that emergency, Wisconsin.
No. 4 Mississippi State
Getting Australia in Risk is like what every football team hopes to do: get to the end with only one loss, and take your chances from there. The game gave you that, Dan Mullen. You control territory and stand a good chance of taking advantage if larger powers can't surpass you.
The game also failed to tell you the other circumstance, that you'd be hemmed in. (Also, Starkville is the Alice Springs of Mississippi, so the comparison goes further than mere strategy.) So like Australia in most games, it sounds good in theory to be here in this exact spot, and yet ends up being so much more complicated than you thought.
You'll also notice some No. 8 Ole Miss stuck in Papua New Guinea. That's because Ole Miss has distributed resources very badly, yet has enough left to pose some danger.
Floating on the barge they have lived on since being denied a spot in the game at the start.