Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Sports: An exciting time to be a UCLA sports fan

Tonight is the Emerald Bowl.

The Emerald Bowl is a third tier bowl game. It will be carried only on cable and on local radio. UCLA usually is on 570AM but since the Lakers are playing tonight, the UCLA game moves over to 1150. The signal strength of 1150 is so low such that my car radio sometimes has trouble picking it up. My radio at home is able to bring it in. I suppose I might have to wander over to a a sports bar to see the ESPN coverage as I don't have cable at home. It costs a fortune to have cable in Los Angeles!

UCLA is supposed to win but they were supposed to win in 2003 in the Silicon Valley Bowl and showed no heart in a dismal loss. In 2004, they were supposed to win in the Las Vegas Bowl but they couldn't hold on and lost the game in the final minute. In 2005, they did win in the Sun Bowl but not before digging themselves into a 21-0 deficit!

The Pac-10 is having a down year and it showed with Oregon getting beat up by BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl and Hawaii shredding Arizona State in the Hawaii Bowl.

Normally, I'd be offering a friendly wager to a certain Big-12 fan friend but I'm not too optimistic about the Pac-10's chances in the Holiday Bowl between Cal and Texas A&M nor the Sun Bowl contest between Missouri and Oregon State.

The Pac-10 might go 0-6 this bowl season. I'm hoping for at least 1-5 with UCLA being the lone win. If we go 2-4, I wouldn't mind if the second win is USC over Michigan as long as the first win is UCLA over FSU!

In any case, Dorrell needs this victory just as much as he needed the win against USC to improve recruitment prospects for the years ahead. 2007 isn't expected to be a big recruiting year as they have only a small number of seniors leaving the program but UCLA still wants to get some good prospects.

Recruitment is so much about momentum. Once it became clear that the UCLA basketball program was on the downhill side under Lavin it became harder and harder to get top level players. Likewise, when Howland came aboard, recruits began to reconsider UCLA. A solid win over FSU would help assure recruits that signing up with UCLA means signing onto a rising football program.

Meanwhile, in basketball, UCLA is #1 but Arizona, Washington and Oregon are in the top-25. Arizona and Washington has some big guys who could wreck havoc on the undersized front-line of UCLA.

My impression is that UCLA's success has been truly a team effort. I don't know if any of the current starting five at UCLA is considered a lottery pick for the NBA. I'm not even sure how many of the starting five would be first round draft material! However, they play tough defense and share the ball on offense.

Go Bruins!

UPDATE: 6:50 PM PST, at the half, UCLA 20 FSU 13. The total yards stat has it essentially even: 256 vs. 245 with the slight edge to UCLA. The difference, at the moment, was the interception by the UCLA defense on FSU's first drive. The Seminoles were moving the ball easily and threatening to score when Horton picked off the pass.
7:09 PM PST, FSU gets a field goal cutting the UCLA lead down to 20-16. UCLA fans are nervous as the defense which is supposed to be the team's strong point has been getting beat badly.
7:16 PM PST, NOT GOOD 3 and out and then a blocked punt for a FSU TD. FSU leads 23-20.
7:32: PM PST, UCLA gets the lead back on the back of the running backs! UCLA 27 FSU 23. C'mon UCLA defense! Gotta to stuff these guys on the next possession!
7:36 PM PST, 3 and out but FSU gets a good punt.
7:51 PM PST, after 3 quarters, the score stands UCLA 27 FSU 23. UCLA has the ball as the teams switch sides for the final quarter.
7:58 PM PST, UCLA can't do anything with the ball and has to punt. FSU is moving the ball. They got a good running back in Booker. They also got some tall wide-outs. But the QB isn't delivering the ball to them consistently.
8:11 PM PST, FSU's QB is inconsistent but he hits his big wide-out and FSU takes the lead 30-27. Can UCLA's offense get off the deck?
8:23 PM PST, UCLA goes 3 and out and FSU is moving and is about to score again.
8:25 PM PST, only 6 minutes left and FSU now leads 37-27. It might be over.
8:33 PM PST, it is over. INT-TD for FSU. The score is now 44-27. You can stick a fork in the Bruins.

What can you say?

UCLA came to play but the difference between victory and defeat can be so small. That 4th quarter .... everything fell apart and that was all she wrote. The Fire Dorrell crowd will be burning up the sports talk shows and the internets.

Bruins fans are in mourning once again. The defense that came up big against USC couldn't stop FSU.

The brain trust at FSU recognized that if you can give the QB a little bit more time, the UCLA secondary is vulnerable. Oregon, Washington State and the Cal Bears exploited it. Shockingly, USC didn't.

The FSU QB isn't the greatest passer but he had enough time for his wide-outs to get open so he could deliver the ball to them.

Also, big plays all went against UCLA... the fumble that turned into an FSU TD on the next play, the blocked punt that turned into an FSU TD and the INT for TD gave FSU the third big play of the game. 21 points on BIG PLAYS. The margin of victory is erased if those big plays are erased.

Both Dorrell and Walker go from on the hot seat to heros to on the hot seat once again.



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