Ok, so a BCS berth is out. Relax, exhale, and get used to it. There's just no way Ohio State is losing three Big Ten games this year, and there's no way they are in the MNC title game, either. Either the Buckeyes or Penn State are going to the Rose Bowl. That's just how it is.
Now, back to the season, with seven games remaining. Where do we go from here. First step, panic!
Well, no, not really. The loss to Michigan was distressing, especially after seeing how Illinois scorched them, but it is what it is. Take that game away, and no one is going to be too upset about losing a nail biter, by three, to Ohio State. That's not to say all is well, but dwelling on two losses isn't going to help. What will help?
(1) Quarterback play needs to improve. Bielema implicitly threatened Evridge's job this week. He'll start against Penn State, but the leash is sounding short. And it should be. His receivers aren't helping him, but look, a 5th year senior should be able to throw a screen pass accurately, and Chryst's offense depends on that.
(2) Who's the guy at running back? Clay looks like a beast-in-training, but he isn't there yet. There's more to playing running back than carrying the mail, and Clay just isn't the guy. But Brown could be. Hill doesn't seem patient enough to find the right holes, Brown is. And it's not like he's a midget out there. I'd start him, but hey, I'm not on the practice field every day.
(3) Receivers: you guys are Division 1 scholarship winners at a big-time college football program, you should be able to catch the ball. Use extra stickum.
(4) Defense. Well, to be honest, they really aren't bad. There's no shame in giving up 20 to Ohio State, and as ugly as it looked at times, they only gave up 21 to Michigan while the offense was leaving them out there to dry. And 10 against a Fresno State team that is averaging 37 in its other four games. So? Missed tackles remain a problem that needs addressing, especially with another dangerous spread team coming this week, and Illinois not too far ahead in the future.
(5) Coaching. Especially on defense, the calls are coming in late. Against Ohio State on the final drive wasn't the first time. There shouldn't be anything too difficult to figure out by the time the 4th quarter of a game rolls around. On offense, Chryst needs to keep the pedal down when playing with a lead.
What does it all mean? Ok, so expectations have been lowered for this season (again). But the season isn't over. There isn't a game on the schedule that the Badgers can't win, though Penn State will be very tough. Regardless of what happens this weekend (and the beating the Nits put on the Badgers last year should be ample motivation to fire the Badgers back up after two devastating losses), the Badgers still have a lot to play for.
So, bring on the fightin' JoPas and lets see what the Badgers can do.
(While an optimist by nature, I'm not an idiot; I'm seeing 8-4, with losses to Penn State and Illinois or MSU, probably Illinois.)