It took two seconds to change every single hope for this season.
The chance of a Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl appearance? Finally squashed.
New Year’s Day bowl game? The chances of that happening are close to nil.
Once Ricky Stanzi (that bastard) completed a seven-yard pass to the ridiculously named Marvin McNutt, the Spartans were presented with one overriding fact: The goal for this season is simply to get to six wins.
It should happen. But, as is painfully obvious to all Spartan fans, nothing is guaranteed. A winnable game against MAC bottom-dwellers Western Michigan isn’t even assured after the Week Two debacle against Central Michigan.
This team is ridiculously talented and it’s really incredible to consider they’re 4-4 (2-2). The talk around a frustrated campus this week has had one repetitive theme—we have the best 4-4 team in the country.
As a program on the rise, the absolute worst scenario puts MSU out of a bowl game and sitting at home wondering what may have been. It’s an unlikely prospect, but the dreams of playing under the lights in Pasadena, or even on national TV in the Capital One Bowl for the second straight year are even less likely.
A win against an Eric Decker-less Minnesota on Saturday night would go a long way to restoring confidence in a crushed fan base. Those last two seconds in Spartan Stadium sucked the soul out of so many Spartans that it is still difficult to find anyone willing to have a rational conversation about the Iowa game.
This year is simply not like last year. All the breaks MSU got last year have been going totally the other way this year. But, good teams will make their own breaks and perhaps in a year or two this talented group of players will have enough experience to make those breaks.
Perspective is needed in both the best and worst of times, and this week might be the worst time of the season thus far. What we learned Saturday is that this team is about two seconds away from being a true contender.
But, if this is what a rebuilding year is in Spartan football under head coach Mark Dantonio, color me impressed.
The season is not a loss if the Spartans are not playing on New Year’s day. Finishing 3-1 would put MSU in solid bowl position in somewhere that isn’t Ford Field playing in the Little Caesar’s Pizza! Pizza! Bowl.
Even two more wins would ensure a third bowl game in three seasons, a solid benchmark for a program that has been mired in mediocrity for so long.
As heartbreaking as Saturday’s loss was, Dantonio has gone through the seven stages of grief and moved on. It’s time for all of Spartan Nation to do the same.
Photo courtesy: The State News