Closing the Deal

So the Emerald Bowl. I wrote last week that this match up against a washed up Bowden program would sound interesting only if we pulled out the expected win over Southern Cal. Now that Dorrell delivered this game looks interesting and now it looms as a must win game for Dorrell to build on last weekend's stepping stone. And from early looks it looks like pundits expect the Bruin defense to DOMINATE a hapless FSU offense in this game. From CFN's Peter Fiutak:

Emerald Bowl
Florida State vs. UCLA  December 27, 2006, ESPN

Move this up ten spots if Florida State actually decides to show up. UCLA, fresh off its stunning win over USC, can keep the momentum going in what should be an off-season pf promise. The Seminole defense has been solid all season long, but the offense hasn't shown up over the second half of the season. Can the FSU O line keep its quarterbacks clean? Nope.

Stars of the show: 1) UCLA DE Justin Hickman, 2) Florida State LB Buster Davis, 3) UCLA DE Bruce Davis

The knee jerk, off-the-cuff, initial prediction: UCLA 24 ... Florida State 10
And from Stewart Mandel of CNNSI:
Emerald (Dec. 27): UCLA (7-5) vs. Florida State (6-6). This one will be worth it just for the halftime interview with Bobby Bowden -- when he's asked how his team plans to gain its second first down.
Ouch. We will really get into this game after this weekend's Wooden Classic and make the case why we think UCLA should overwhelm the Noles in this first meeting between two programs with proud football history (and for those fools who want to get snarky about UCLA being a basketball school again read this).

More on the importance of this bowl game from Charles Chiccoa in his weekly column on BRO:
The Bruins may have college basketball?s greatest tradition, but I still hate it when people call UCLA ?a basketball school.? That?s too easy. There?s been more football success in Westwood than people credit, or are even aware of. A lot of the problem, of course, is SC? this whole cursed series, all their #1s, all their Heisman winners compared to Sanders? lonely #1 and Beban?s lonely Heisman. But even without this win, UCLA football would still be miles ahead of something like Trojan basketball. I continue to believe there?s no unmanageable barrier to a successful profile in both sports. If KD can do something about this offense; if Cowan or Ben Olson can make it work like Drew Olson managed to do ten out of twelve times last year, then December 2nd could be the beginning of the reawakening we?ve all been waiting for.

Bruin football, for the first time since Miami, is a national story. They won in what was arguably the most dramatic game of the year, certainly the upset of the year. And it seems everyone was watching. Names like Hickman Davis, Cowan, Everett and McNeil are now known outside of SoCal. KD is being talked about in something other than the subtly patronizing terms as before. He?s finally acquired an identity and so has Bruin football. Obviously, this can be lost between now and the ?Emerald Bowl? This game in San Francisco, considering the sorry state of things after Cal? well it couldn?t have worked out better. No Hawaii over there. No gimmicky, volleyball offense. Instead the Bruins have drawn a geriatric, apparently debilitated legend, pretty obviously on the fast track to forced retirement, coming west to play the most underrated team in the country, fresh off its biggest win since ?Route 66.? The Bruins cannot afford to stumble. They need to handle Bobby Bowden?s mediocre ?Noles like KD?s old Bruin team handled Jimmy Johnson?s mediocre Miami team. The Bruins are a well deserved favorite, but you know the ?Noles always have good athletes.
Make sure to read his entire column. It's a great read.

Anyways we will have more on the FSU game later. However, if you want to beat us to the punch and start talking about this bowl game, then consider this a football open thread. And since I mentioned an open thread here is another priceless shot from last Saturday:


Photo: The Daily Breeze

Just another one of those images from Saturday that will be imprinted in our minds for rest of our lives. Junior Taylor left Rose Bowl on a such an incredible high. Let's hope the coaches will prepare Taylor and his team-mates well to make sure they close the deal on December 27 and end the 2006 on another high note. As Chiccoa noted above our guys cannot afford to stumble.

GO BRUINS.
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