(1) I think after this past weekend, many of us, players, fans & coaches alike felt at least some kind of burden lifted: Bowl Eligibility; Defeat of supposedly a team on the rise in Illinois. Things are a little bit calmer in these parts. Plus, we have some momentum going forward into a very winnable game @ Purdue. Sure, nothing's a given, but I like our chances to put a hurtin' on the Boilers. 7-3 going into the last two? Many predicted 7 wins for us this year. Check*.
(2) Those last two games against Wisconsin & OSU should be a blast! We are in a fantastic position to totally screw up the chances of those teams for Big 10 Title & BCS aspirations. A dollar says this team from here on out looks much less tense and seems to have a shitload of fun on the field. They will be underdogs in each of those games, and I'm going to predict that we upset one of them. I think these last three games will be a great preview of some of what should come next year.
(3) There's been some more Denard/Heisman chatter around here recently, and while it's probably not going to happen, this stage is where Heisman finalists are made. If Denard leads us to wins over the last three games, he's got a real shot to get back into the picture. I think he could still be a finalist if he wins 2 of the three, but puts up great numbers in all three. Not super important right now, but it sure would be fun to see him get proper credit for the ridiculous year he's having.
(4) I, for one, am quite excited to see what happens with this team the rest of November. Before the season, I said very calmly to myself that if we improve enough to get to a bowl, I'm not going to complain about Rodriguez as our coach again in 2010. That's happened, and I'm sticking to my word. He gives us the absolute best shot to be a contender next year, and he seems to have full support of his players. So sit back, breathe a little easier, and let's all have some fun and see if this wacky combination of Top-5 offense and Bottom-Tier Defense can't find some happy medium and mess up the Big Ten Picture a little.
*First things, first: Let's wipe the floor with Purdue this weekend. I think it will happen. Maybe some tense moments, maybe a high-scoring affair, but whatever, that's old hat at this point. Anyway, always have to put this disclaimer when looking ahead.