Nothing about Saturday’s loss to Bowling Green was elite. It was bad all around and easily the worst loss of the PJ Fleck era.
Part of what really stings about this loss was the fact that Fleck hasn’t really had any bad losses in his time at Minnesota. Especially not since he made the change at defensive coordinator after week 9 of the 2018 season.
Saturday’s loss proves that we are not immune to such things under PJ Fleck. But as always, I’m here to bring a little perspective to the situation. And I’m going to come at you with two main points.
The first is that this team is not good enough to simply show up and win.
“You have to be confident enough to know you can beat anybody if you play your best. But you have to be humble enough to know that if you’re not at your best you can get beat by anybody. “
This is spot on. I firmly believe that this program has a very good foundation and has plenty of opportunities to do great things this year and subsequent years. But nobody is immune to losing in college football if you don’t execute.
You see it all the time in college football. Look at Colorado who played really well 2 weeks ago to then see the Gophers come into their house and absolutely dominate them in all phases. Then the Gophers go out and lay a fat egg as 31-point favorites.
“We did not deserve to win that football game, whatsoever. Whether we won the game or not, we did not deserve to win that football game.”
Whether this was 19 and 20 yr old kids who just weren’t as focused that day? Whatever it was, this happens in college football. In the past, PJ Fleck teams have had bad games along with vanilla game plans against inferior opponents and pulled out a win. It doesn’t excuse it and there are concerning things that are not to be ignored. But also, perhaps this was the reminder for humbleness that lasts throughout the next 8 games.
Secondly, and this is the optimistic part, this does nothing to change the course of the season. It is a bad loss, no doubt. But perhaps this was the slap in the face to ensure they don’t have any more games where they play as though their heads are still in Boulder.
“We gotta make sure that they have the mindset that everything is right there in front of them. Keep moving forward. This is what Row the Boat is all about. This is a tough storm to go through. And we’re gonna go through it.”
This team still has every opportunity to accomplish their goals for the season. You probably don’t recall that in 2018 Northwestern started 1-3 with a loss to what was a 4-8 Akron team. That Northwestern team won their next 7 Big Ten games and made it to the Big Ten Championship game.
Is this a prediction? No. But everything is still there for this team and at times they have shown that they are capable. This team better put their oars in the water and start figuring out how to row together and efficiently. I don’t think what we saw against Bowling Green is indicative of what this team is capable of.
We will find out soon enough as the Gophers hit the road to face a struggling and beat up Purdue.