We were in it to the end, which is to say that Sparty was Sparty enough to keep us in it. Unfortunately, Sparty was also Wolverine enough, or tough enough, to expose what we are....still mired in a few years of small and fast recruiting, small and fast player development. We're built for slants and tricks and reads after the snap, but not for fights or wars in the trenches, and little brother proved to be too much on this day.
I placed a lot of emphasis on this game. I did the same 12 months ago, using our loss at home to Michigan State to mark the end of the Rich Rod era. It was the game to prove we were different this year. But more importantly, it was the game that had the opportunity to end some of the suffering and take the edge off some of the pain we've felt the last few years. That didn't happen.
It was supposed to be different. I wasn't supposed to walk out of what is without a doubt the worst venue in the Big Ten, wind burned and beaten, making the slow and disorganized (seriously can't you losers figure out how to manage 75,000 fans) trek down the ramps, filled with the same questions I had seven weeks ago...and the same questions I had at this time the last two years. I don't know who we are this year. I don't know where we're going this year. I guess we need to find a way to wait to find out.
The problem now, just as it has been the last two seasons, is that once the formula for beating Michigan is exposed, the copycat Big Ten will jump on the bandwagon. It's clear...punch Michigan in the face and they will wilt. Some of our remaining opponents have the horses for this race, some will not. In a season where we have applauded the adjusting ability of our coaches within a game, we now have to rely on our coaches to adjust after a loss, and that's assuming there's an adjustment that can be made with the given personnel....which is a very big assumption.
But listen, all is not lost. In a conference that is as bad as the Big Ten, anything can happen. We can win any and all of our remaining games. In the Legends division, the division that does not include what is likely the only decent team (Wisconsin) in the conference, we have just as good a shot as anyone to go to Indy.
Stay the course. Keep calm and Go Blue.