That was frustrating. I get it. I’m with you.
Even with the Bowling Green loss on our record, there was plenty of reason for optimism for this 2021 season. Iowa and Wisconsin have looked rather pedestrian and at the same time the Gophers had been showing steady improvement over what was a 4-game winning streak.
The pieces were in place for the Gophers to win the Big Ten West, leapfrog their rivals and earn that elusive trip to Pasadena.
I was really looking forward to the game in Iowa City after taking down Nebraska, Maryland, Northwestern and Illinois in consecutive weeks. But that didn’t happen. It was about halfway through the 1st quarter when you knew that this day was going to be a struggle.
This is probably where the biggest frustration lies with this team. It is the inability to make adjustments on offense when something is not working. I think you can very clearly see that they come into each gam with a game plan, something they have identified through scouting the opponent where they think they can take advantage of the defense. And at times it has very much worked. Purdue, Maryland and Northwestern are excellent examples of taking advantage of the defense and executing to a victory.
But Bowling Green and Illinois are glaring examples of what happens when the defense is thwarting what was your pregame game plan. And what this offense continues to do is the exact same thing, not making adjustments until it is too late. So when the offense struggles early while the opponent takes an early lead, it is easy to fall into the mindset that this is going to be a very long game. Why? Because they’ve demonstrated that making necessary adjustments to the game plan is not in that plan.
So yes, this is a hangover of frustration right now. And as I sit at my keyboard on Monday afternoon, it still lingers.
But all hope is not lost. While I’m frustrated, I’m also not of the mindset that because last week was so bad then there is little hope for the remaining three games. The, “we can’t beat Illinois, we have no shot at beating Iowa or Wisconsin” mindset. If we have learned anything it is that this team can look awful on week and rather good the next. So the mindset that the team we saw against BG & ILL is the “real” team is just as flawed as assuming the dominating performances
So here’s the deal. My Rose Bowl dream is dead. Winning the remaining three games and getting into the Big Ten Championship Game wouldn’t be enough with one of the teams in the East likely to snipe the Rose Bowl bid.
But all is not lost. We are NOWHERE near the level where either we achieve something like the Rose Bowl or it wasn’t a successful season. Brining Floyd home this Saturday would be outstanding. Finding a way into the Big Ten Championship Game would be something this program has never seen.
These things, and a home shot at beating Wisconsin, are all still there on the table. Clearly if they play like they did last week, they will struggle to win anymore games. But I’m not taking the mindset that the Illinois struggles is what we should be expecting from this team. There are exciting wins to be had and a strong finish to the season is there. Three regular season games left to enjoy Gopher football. We can all do that, even if they aren’t going to finish 10-2.