The sentiment this week among many Northwestern backers wasn't so much confidence as it was hope as the No. 16 Wildcats prepared to host No. 4 Ohio State.
It was more of a 'Do you think we have a chance?' sentiment.
Well, until the final minutes of Saturday night's thriller in Evanston the answer was two simple words:
Northwestern went toe-to-toe with the Buckeyes, trading jabs -- and leads -- before dropping a 40-30 decision, a decision that was much closer than the final score indicated thanks to a Northwestern lateral-fest on the final play of the game that resulted in a Buckeyes touchdown as time expired.
"There's a team getting on the bus going back to Columbus that just got into a fight with our football team," Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "That's what I'll take from this game."
And that's certainly what his counterpart, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, will take away as well.
"This was a great football game," said Meyer, whose team won its 18th straight. "They don't make mistakes, but they've got very, very good players, borderline great players in some positions and a scheme that is hard to defend."
It sure was for much of the game, as the Wildcats jumped out to a 20-13 halftime lead and boosted it to 23-13 early in the third quarter.
But from then on it became Carlos Hyde Show as the big bruising Buckeye back put his team on his shoulders, scoring 3 second half touchdowns to key Ohio State's comeback.
"In the locker room, I told the offense that that's not us, we score points, not kick field goals," said Hyde, who finished with 168 yars rushing on 26 carries. "Everybody got their mind right in that second half. Coach told me that we were going to start riding me. I get excited when they tell me that."
The start of the OSU comeback wasn't exactly a Bush Push, maybe more of a Hyde Seek.
Whatever you want to call it, Hyde's extra effort with his eyes to the skies, his backside to the turf and the football fully extended toward the goal line gave the Buckeyes a 27-23 lead and was the beginning of the end of a valiant Northwestern effort.
It was the first of 2 fourth quarter TDs for Hyde.
"I wanted it bad," he said. "I like when games come down to the fourth quarter."
After Hyde's second TD of the quarter gave OSU a 34-30 lead with 5:22 left, Northwestern came within the length of a football from keeping a possible game-winning drive alive.
But on fourth-and-inches, quarterback Kain Colter, after fumbling but quickly recovering the snap, couldn't break through the Buckeyes' front, and Northwestern dreams of an upset were dashed.
"I know every guy that stepped on the field put everything he had on the field, left nothing out there," Colter said. "It was a heavyweight fight and you win some and you lose some."