So as you might deduce from the title I am inclined to think that this Saturday evening's tilt with the Badgers is a pretty big one. As I thought about the viability of my premise, that this game is the most important in the Harbaugh era, I do realize it's not against MSU or OSU which would traditionally be the games that we would attach such significant meaning too. However, just looking at the present state of our program, both real and perceived, I think a win this weekend really sets us up for a strong season, and hopefully momentum going forward as a program.
Why this game? Some thoughts . . .
When Harbaugh took over every national pundit in the country was predicting a National Championship in 3-5 years, and at the least a return to national prominence. A good first few seasons, crazy and awesome satellite camp and recruiting stories, twitter wars, trips overseas, all mixed in with some disappointing but very close loses had us back in the spotlight with the arrow pointing up. Then last year happened . . . the arrow evened out. Real or perceived it's where we are, and now this season is supposed to be make or break for Harbaugh.
The atmosphere will be amazing! A Saturday night prime time game against a conference foe who had/has aspirations of a BIG 10 title and beyond. The weather looks to be perfect with no rain and the temp around 50 degrees, perfect fall weather for football. The Big House should be a full house under the lights for a national audience and recruits to take in. College Game Day gets things started early as everyone should be excited about the day.
The schedule may now set up to be a bit more manageable than originally thought. We were looking at a bonafide BIG 10 murderers row of sorts with Wisconsin, MSU, and Penn State all in a row who all defeated us last year. Beat Wisconsin at home, while an injury depleted and emotionally down MSU (see post on Valenti) has to travel to Penn State for a very physical game that they lose. We then get to visit a very down, but admittedly desperate 3-3 MSU team with our confidence high and win a close one. Then a bye week to heal and prepare for a Penn State game at home where we hopefully learned some things from last year.
The perception of Harbaugh and the team at present is that we can't win the big games especially in Oct/Nov and this reputation has been earned. A win Saturday on the biggest stage helps to erase that thought, and brings the team much needed confidence . . . the arrow goes back up.
This all sounds really good . . . . in my head! What do you guys think? Exclude the reasons if you want and/or insert your own. How important is this game and does it carry with it a water shed moment of sorts?