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The Best Case, The Worst Case, and The Most Likely

After an abysmal two weeks at Penn State and Ohio State, Minnesota is now 4-4 with 4 games remaining in the season.  What are the possible outcomes for the year, and what will need to happen for each outcome to become a reality?  I have plans at 3PM, so here's my 15 minute assessment:

The Best Case

Realistically, the best case scenario would be to defeat Michigan State, Illinois, and South Dakota State for a 7-5 record and a trip to a decent bowl game.  What would be needed for this to occur?:

  1. Recover from the moral defeat of the last two weeks, and return to early season form by next Saturday.
  2. Use Marquies Gray more extensively at quarterback.  Adam Weber's accuracy, decision-making, footwork, ability to recognize defensive schemes, and confidence have regressed.  Even if Gray isn't quite ready to be the full-time starter, he needs to see at least half of the snaps.
  3. Mix things up on offense and avoid predictability.  For example, don't huddle before every single offensive play.  Catch the defense off guard by occasionally running two plays in a row.
  4. Keep going with the above-average defensive plan from early in the season.

The Worst Case

Minnesota's worst case scenario would be to lose to Michigan State, Illinois, South Dakota State, and Iowa for a 4-8 record.  Here's how that could happen:

  1. The emotional catastrophe of the last two weeks carries through the next three weeks.
  2. Eric Decker remains injured.
  3. Adam Weber takes the vast majority of the snaps and Marquies Gray continues to be used sparingly.  How this team uses Marquies Gray for the rest of the season may determine bowl eligibility, Brewster's future, and the program's future.
  4. The offensive play-calling remains the same.
  5. The defense loses their fire when they realize that the offense cannot score.

The Most Likely Case

Most likely, Minnesota will defeat either Michigan State or Illinois in a close game, and along with South Dakota State will get to 6 wins.  With both Michigan State and Illinois playing at TCF Bank Stadium and having inconsistent seasons, there is a realistic chance that Minnesota can defeat one of them.  South Dakota State should be beatable by a Big Ten team.  They have no chance against Iowa.  Hello Detroit?