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The Fire Bowl - First Look

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So the Bruins go to Tempe this weekend to take on a Jekyll and Hyde team in Arizona State. This is shaping up to be as one of our commenters put it - "the Fire Bowl" - a bowl game sort of two underachieving head coaches, who are fighting to keep their jobs. Dump Dorrell has more (emphasis/links DD's):

Regardless of who wins, both coaches must climb the wall of insanity that is closing in on them and their programs (that?s a bit of humor folks). They share similar records and, strangely, initials (DK & KD). Koetter has compiled a 61% winning pct. at ASU (62-40) while Dorrell is at 57% (27-20). Koetter has a 20-26 record against the Pac-10 and Dorrell has a 17-14 record. Koetter and Dorrell share horrible records against ranked teams, Koetter at 2-20 and Dorrell at 3-11. While Koetter does well on the road, 26-10, he does horribly at home 36-30. Dorrell has done well at home, 19-5, but horribly on the road, 8-15.

Of course they also share the ire of fans. Koetter has a Fire Koetter petition of his own cycling around, with about 260 signatures as of this writing. The Dump Dorrell petition has more signatures, almost 700 in less than two weeks. But Koetter has two sites, here and here, dedicated to his removal whereas Dorrell only has one that is active. Neither coach is perceived by anyone in the nation as being altogether a force, either in coaching or in recruiting, and both programs have become insigificant on the national stage, and in UCLA?s case, in their own city.

Another interesting point for Bruin fans, Koetter has what Dorrell?s program will look like in a couple of years - actually 3 more years. If DG doesn?t fire a 5-7, 6-6 or 7-6 KD this year, he won?t be able to fire a 8-4 (8-5/9-4 with bowl game) KD in 2007, nor a 6-6 KD in 2008 - because we will hear the same excuses in 2008 that we are hearing this year, ?how can you fire KD when he went 9-4/8-5 last year? and ?his team is young (in 2008).? If DG doesn?t fire KD this year we will have him for 3 more years AT LEAST!! Saturday will give us a close up look at what our program will be like after a three more mediocre years with KD.
Losing this game will be a huge blow to Dorrell or Koetter going into the rivalry games for their respective teams.

ASU is coming off a big win against Washington State (which has been exposed after blowing out Dorrell's team at the Rose Bowl). But they have some ugly losses in it's season resume which includes getting blown out by Oregon State (10-44) and by Oregon (13-48). That loss against Oregon was at home.  Not to mention against Southern California, Koetter pulled a Dorrell by quitting in the last minutes punting it away on 4th down.

In any event there will be a huge pressure on both teams to win this game and the key matchup will be between the Bruin defense and Sun Devils offense.

Bruin Defense v. Sun Devils Offense

Bruin Defense 06 Rank Per Game Sun Devils Offense 06 Rank Per Game
Rushing Defense 1 90.9 Rushing Offense 2 167.6
Pass Defense 7 215.6 Pass Offense 7 201.5
Pass Eff. Defense 8 128.9 Pass Eff. Offense 5 132.5
Total Defense 4 306.5 Total Offense 5 369.1
Scoring Defense 2 19.4 Scoring Offense 4 28.4

On paper the Sun Devils rushing offense (number 2 in the Pac-10) looks pretty impressive. Ryan Torrain is having a pretty good season rushing for 863 yards (5.3 avg. per carry). Keegan Herring has been coming on late too. He has rushed for 442 yards (6.1 yards per carry) and 6 TDs.Check out his 65 yard TD run against the Huskies. Pretty impressive:

Given that DeWayne Walker has declared the Bruin defense of early season is coming, we can expect our DL to contain the ASU running attack fairly well. So the key to throttling the ASU offense will be whether our defense will be able to rough up Rudy Carpenter, the way it roughed up Matt Moore, and Brady Quinn few weekends ago (until that last minute).

We will take Coach Walker at his word that our defense is ?refocused? and will be playing with the energy it showed earlier in the season, which it exhibited against Oregon State. If they do it, we expect the Bruin defense to have the edge over ASU offense and hold those guys within 3 TDs.

And as for offense Dorrell proclaimed after the Cal game that the offense was making ?progress.? And even though it followed up with a 3 point output in the first half against the Beavers, we expect our offense to put up at least 24+ points against the Sun Devils, which has the 8th ranked scoring defense in the conference. Here are the numerical matchups:

Bruin Offense v. Sun Devils Defense

Bruin Offense 06 Rank Per Game Sun Devils Defense 06 Rank Per Game
Rushing Offense 7 128.5 Rushing Defense 6 127.9
Pass Offense 6 206.3 Pass Defense 3 186.1
Pass Eff. Offense 7 116.6 Pass Eff. Defense 5 121.2
Total Offense 7 334.8 Total Defense 5 314.0
Scoring Offense 7 23.5 Scoring Defense 8 24.7

Just like the Bruin defense the ASU defense rejuvenated itself in its last game. From Sportsline:

Run defense -- Arizona State has been giving up yards, but Washington State could not find any, especially on the ground. After averaging 141 yards per game rushing this season, the Cougars had only 27 yards against the Sun Devils. ASU had only 192 total yards.

Pass rush -- The Sun Devils went the previous two games without a sack. They had two against Washington State, and a handful of hurries against Alex Brink.
Well at this point there should be no excuse for UCLA offense not to perform. This is Dorrell?s offense now. Apparently he is calling lot of the plays. Now that PC has gotten the starting nod we expect him to follow up his decent second half against the Beavers with strong opening half against the Sun Devils. Hope he will use his experience and build on his play from last weekend when he connected with Everrett and found on Ketchum in key third down situations.

Meanwhile Chris Markey had a pretty good game against the Beavers. So hopefully he will folowup with another grinding performance this weekend. It will be up to our offense to stop settle for FGs and get 6 points when we get in the endzone. And it will also help if they can cut down on those drive killing false starts and holding penalties, which led to another less than average offensive performance at the Rose Bowl this past weekend.

If the Bruins want to save face in the ?Fire Bowl,? they will have to pull out a win, otherwise empty clich?s of ?progress? we heard after scoring some points against Cal during garbage time is not going to work.