I said saturday right after the game that we can still view this as a successful season if we reconfigure our expectaitons for the year. You see, at the beginning of the year, I thought this team was good enough that my mindset was "we should win every game, but I won't be disappointed or anything if we lose to Penn State."
It's unfair to this team to maintain that mindset - they're simply not good enough.
So I'm adjusting my thinking. This team can easily go 6-6, and that's all we can ask for. If they pull six wins, avoid the embarrassment of a losing season after we spent the whole freakin offseason talking about how this year would prove NU can put together back-to-back good teams and how the era of losing seasons is over, I'll be happy. And I definitely think it's attainable.
But for it to happen, Northwestern has three must-win - MUST-WIN, YO - games in the next four weeks. These are games that are definitely winnable and if we're going to pull a .500 season, we gotta have em.
Saturday, @ Purdue: This game is actually going to be really tough - a road game against a team that almost beat a Oregon team that just crapped on Cal, who destroyed Minnesota, who we just lost to, and also almost beat Notre Dame - but it's winnable. We really need a W this week to get back on a winning track, and if we don't, it would be really, really hard for us to have a winning record in the last 7 games and pull out a .500 record.
Next Saturday, vs. Miami (OH): Miami is bad. Really bad. They took until week 3 to score a point, and they got blown out by Western Michigan and just lost to Kent State. We can't afford to drop that game.
10/24, vs. Indiana: Again, Indiana looked decent last week playing Michigan close, but when you look at them, regardless of how well they played on Saturday, they're bottom-feeders in the Big Ten. If we can't beat Indiana, there's not many Big Ten teams we can beat.
You'll notice I didn't include MSU, who have looked pretty awful thus far. I don't know. Just cuz they lost to Central Michigan does not a terrible team make, I'm not sold on them being as bad as people seem to think they are.
So that's three W's we have to get. That will leave us with five wins. I'd say we can pretty much rule out beating Penn State and Iowa (it's called "lulling you into a false sense of security"). That leaves with three opportunities to get a sixth win with games @MSU (between the Miami and Indiana games, as noted, seems mighty winnable) @illinois (who have also looked absolutely terrible, but the two awful losses were to good opponents), and against Wisconsin. Its not preposterous to expect one of those games to fall NU's way, and, hell, if we win two of those - maybe even one of those and one of the seemingly unwinnable games against PSU or Iowa - hell, we're golden, baby.
Yeah. This is how to keep Ryan Field half-full like it says up in the subheader.