Friday, December 05, 2014

Last thoughts before the big game...

OK, some last thoughts before the big game.

I think Gabe Martin said it best, yesterday.  He echoed a lot of Bowling Green fans when he said that we have gotten where we wanted to be this year...even though we didn't get there down the road we wanted to.

And that's exactly right.  For 12 games, it has been, overall, disappointing.  Given the team BG had last year and the guys who were back, no way you'd expect to be 7-5.  No way.  And given the offensive skill players returning--even without Johnson--you'd expect to be scoring some points.  And, you'd expect your offensive-guru coach to have adjusted to life without his #1 QB sometime in the 11 games since it happened--similar to the way other MAC teams have done with their backup QBs.

Even being in the title game is a watered down accomplishment, coming as it did with a 5-3 conference mark and 0-3 against the other division.  BG did not beat a team with a winning record during the entire season.

All that being said and acknowledged, it has come down to 1 game and all that goes away with a win tonight.  BG will be repeat champions and all of that will disappear.

We should stop and remember that for many long years we would have killed to go 5-3 and make the MAC title game.  Context is everything, I know, and this team didn't do what we expected, but still...we were in the MAC wilderness for a long time and playing for the title two years in a row is something in, say 2010, we would have considered an incredible milestone.

It is simple as this.  If BG wins, everything is great.  If BG doesn't, it is going to be a long off-season in BG.  Suspect we won't see any more videos of the coach changing the speed limit signs, if you know what I mean.  Multiply all that by 5 if BG gets blown out.

And that is a possibility.  In the 25 questions preview, you can certainly see that NIU is not the team they were last year.  Neither is BG.  There is no reason, on paper, to think BG has the ability to win this game.  NIU beat UT, WMU and Ball State, each of which BG lost to.  BG is playing poorly right now.

Here's the thing.  There wasn't much reason on paper to think that BG could beat NIU last year either, and yet it happened.  Football games are played on the field, and they aren't best of 7.  BG needs to be better than NIU once.

Last year, I said that BG needed their best game to beat NIU, and not only did they deliver their best game but, honestly, it was the best game THE PROGRAM had seen in a long time.  BG doesn't have to be that good, but they will need their best game again tonight, an order of magnitude better than what was seen against Ball State.  BG has not delivered one complete, three-phase 60 minute effort for the entire season and they are going to need it tonight.

It could happen.  The Ball State and Toledo losses could be the bracing dump of cold water that wakes the team up.  Playing indoors could help with accuracy and passing issues.  Coach said he had to fix everything in one week, and if he only partly fixed any of it, I think we're in trouble.  He has to put something together that has yet to exist this season but you could put everything together with a team where most of the players know championship effort.

The biggest question mark is something we do not know, and that is the health of Travis Greene and Fred Coppet.  NIU leads the MAC in pass defense and BG simply must be able to run the ball to win this game.

He appears to be playing the psychology game by not at least walking through some things at Ford Field yesterday, telling the media "our preparation is done."  It is important to note that he has never coached in a winner-take-all game like this.  He did coach in the FCS playoffs (and lost), but he has not coached in a title game like this.

So, we shall see.

Here's what he said on twitter this morning.

And that's exactly right.  This is a great opportunity.  It won't be won with motivational quotes, however.

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