I understand it's probably too soon for everyone to be done grieving and think rationally, but this loss was not unexpected and does not suddenly change what is likely to be our best season since 2006.
We are 6-1. Despite undergoing a coaching change and new schemes on both sides of the ball, we beat ND for the third straight year and for the fifth time in six years. We also avoided getting tripped up by solid if not great WMU and SDSU teams and we won our first conference road game at night against a dangerous NW team. I still believe that NW will trip up one of the other top teams in the conference before this season is over. They do it every year.
Notwithstanding our unexpectedly strong 6-0 start, we were not going to go undefeated this year. Nearly all of our toughest games fall in the second half of our season and we were almost certain to lose some of those games. We lost our seventh game of the season and it just happened to be to Sparty for a fourth year in a row. So what? Prior to the start of the season, I wrote down my predictions and I had us going 8-4 and with a loss to MSU. FWIW, Vegas also had us as an underdog against MSU despite our undefeated start. MSU was 5-1 with their only loss being on the road to a very good ND team. Yes, this game hurts more than most because it is Sparty, but MSU is a very good team and the loss only counts as one in the record books. If we weren't good enough to go undefeated, we had to drop our first game to someone. It should be no surprise that it was in a road game to one of the better teams in the conference.
We have a bye next weekend and then a home game against Purdue, one of the weaker teams in the conference, after that. Assuming we win that game (which we should because we are the better team), we will be 7-1 going into the last four games of the season. All four teams are tough but beatable and two of those games will be in The Big House. If we can split those four games and win two, we will be 9-3 and will likely finish no worse than second in our division. If we can pull off three wins or if Sparty stumbles down the stretch, we still can even win our division and go to the BTCG. We also are on track to have a top five-ish ranked recruiting class with a heavy emphasis on the trenches and defense. Not bad for a transition year with a new coaching staff.