I believe in this team.
No one else does. Ken Gordon, Tim May and Bob Baptist of the Columbus Post-Dispatch were the latest to chime in and say we have no chance, so why bother to compete? Several Big Ten bloggers are also saying the same things. The most kind are giving us wins over Toledo, Northern Illinois, Indiana, and one other Big Ten opponent. Most people are giving us even less respect.
But I believe in this team, and so should you.
Aaron Lewis says it all.
Believe in Joey Elliott. The man has patiently waited for his chance to play, even after a shoulder injury last season put that chance in jeopardy. He is a natural leader, something this team sorely needs. If you're going to have someone new taking over, don't you want someone who knows the system? This works for Wisconsin almost every year as they regularly thrive on 5th year guys as first time starters. Why can't it work for us?
Believe in the parallels to 1997. They are many: Opening against Toledo, new coach, 5th year senior coming off of a shoulder injury as a first time starter at quarterback, low expectations, etc. I think I would gladly take a loss tomorrow if it meant six straight wins after it like it did in 1997. We even have a ranked heavy favorite lined up in game #2
Believe in Danny Hope. Though we have yet to see him coach a game, he has changed the attitude of this entire team. The effort and tenacity is back. He will absolutely have this team believing it can win any game.
Believe in the freshmen. Just because they are young does not mean they are awful. Sure, the likelihood is that they will take time to be impact players, but there are true freshmen every year that surprise. Gary Bush and Antavian Edison look to be those guys, and they are at the right spots we need them to be.
Believe in the power of disrespect. They have us losing to Indiana for crying out loud, just because it is at Indiana. It's not like they have a great home field advantage and we all remember 62-10. This is the same Indiana that struggled mightily with a 1-AA team last night.
Believe in this defense. It has experience at the right spots and could be sneaky good. For once we have hope of stopping the run. We have the most experienced secondary in the Big Ten. We have a defensive coordinator that knows it is legal to make in-game adjustments. We have actual depth at linebacker and defensive tackle. This defense is more than good enough to steal a game or two, especially against teams that don't have strong, proven offenses.
Believe in the running game. When was the last time we had this much depth at running back? When a 4-star true freshman stud is relegated to fifth on the depth chart it is a good sign. Running games eat up the clock and prevent other teams from scoring. They can't score if they don't have the ball, after all.
Believe in the coordinators. Gary Nord has received high praise everywhere he has been for his work with quarterbacks. Donn Landholm stresses creating turnovers. There will be creativity again on offense, and getting turnovers gives them the ball to use that creativity.
Believe in the power of hard work. They may be new, but this entire team has been busting its ass all summer in preparation for the season. We had record numbers of players on campus all summer working out and pushing each other.
Believe in Torri Williams. The last remaining player from The Fumble deserves a better ending.
Believe in the mediocrity of the Big Ten. I have yet to hear one reason other than inexperience as to why we cannot beat anyone other than Indiana in our own conference. Everyone has major question marks, and only Ohio State and Penn State are supposedly light years ahead of everyone else. Minnesota? They struggled mightily last year. Wisconsin? Quarterback issues and general blah feeling. Illinois? Turnovers and underachievement. Indiana? They are Indiana. Michigan? I don't have 2,000 more words to go off on what's wrong with them. Favorites Penn State and Iowa? Not on the schedule, so it doesn't matter. Michigan State? Good, but they must replace a lot on offense to complement a nasty defense. That leaves just Ohio State. The formula is simple. Beat Toledo and Northern Illinois. Get two of three from Northwestern, Michigan State, and Illinois. Split with Minnesota and Wisconsin, beat Indiana. That's your six wins right there.
Believe upsets can happen again. Yes, it has been since 2003 since we beat a ranked team, but a new attitude and everyone thinking we are a doormat can change that. We will beat a ranked team again. Why not now? Oregon, Notre Dame, and Ohio State are ranked, so you never know.
Believe we can win in Ann Arbor. Michigan's season appears to be headed toward being an absolute train wreck. It may even be worse than last year. We could be 24 hours from an apocalypse when an experienced and very good Western Michigan team beats them in the Big House. We have to win there again sometime, and I feel like if it doesn't happen this year it may never happen again.
Believe in the offensive line. It is nice when they are healthy and can form a cohesive unit.
Believe in the dominance over the MAC. Because even last year, in our worst season since the Colletto years, we still beat the best the MAC had to offer.
Believe because you can. Right now the scoreboard sits at 0-0 before every game on our schedule. It did the same when #12 Notre Dame came to West Lafayette in September of 1997. It did when we faced #4 Kansas State in December of 1998. It also did for Appalachian State when they went to Michigan in 2007.
Believe because Indiana won at Oregon. Under Gerry DiNardo. Surely we can do something Indiana did in football.
Believe because no one else does. This team is the only thing that can change that.
Finally, believe because the season is new. You never know what is going to happen with freak injuries, suspensions, weather, and anything else that can level the playing field against teams we have supposedly no chance against. They still keep score, so we might as well go out there and try to win the damn thing.
I will see you at Ross-Ade tomorrow.