Fans and experts decide which games a team should win and which games they should lose, and the result produces either elation, hope or anger. Kind of like a chemical reaction. For example:
• Expecting to win + an actual win = Mild sense of superiority and power, especially if you gain 600 yards against a team named the Catamounts
• Expecting to win + an actual loss = Panic and gloom, or gnashing of teeth if you only score 3 points against a team that surrendered 49 a week earlier
• Expecting to lose + an actual win = Wild elation (see last year's South Carolina, Ole Miss or Auburn games), trash-talking, and going online to check the price of Sugar Bowl tickets
• Expecting to lose + an actual loss = Mild sense of sorrow mingled with hope if you had a chance to tie the game in the fourth quarter in Baton Rouge and you think you can blame the loss on a single player like, say, Alex Washington
So this season we've felt a mild sense of superiority, followed by a mild sense of sorrow mingled with hope, followed by weeping and gnashing of teeth. We're doomed, right?
How ’bout we take it one game at a time? Remember how last season we started the season winning five games we were favored to lose? Then our expectations got thrown out of whack and we freaked out when we started losing to Miss State, Duke and Tennessee. And at the end of the season, everybody's saying we should have gone 10-3. (Further evidence that we're in unchartered waters.)
Winning a bowl game last season was a huge step for this program. Like Bobby Johnson says, Vandy has to battle to beat anybody they play. That's not poor-mouthing; it's absolutely true. We have the least talent in the SEC and probably always will. To win, we need to do what Wake Forest and even Georgia Tech has been doing with lesser talent: Implement a system that maximizes the players you do have and then execute it perfectly. We're getting there on defense; we all know what's happening to the offense.
But last Saturday was only one game. What if, this season, we stumble out of the gate and then we finish strong? What if we lost a game or two we're supposed to win, but early in the season, and then won some games we're supposed to lose, but late in the season.
I'd consider that an improvement. It would mean we've got more depth, and we're getting stronger as the season progresses and building toward next season, and we've actually improved.
We'll see. But a win would do wonders for our collective psyche right now. Just don't count your chickens before they hatch.