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Playing for Some Pineapples

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So the spin after the win against Oregon State is that Karl Dorrell's program are approaching the last three games as a brand new season. And after that win against Mike Riley's Oregon State program everything is all right again Westwood. And looks like the beat writers are falling for that spin:

This year, despite its mediocre record, UCLA has rebounded after setbacks.

"We've shown that we're extremely tough-minded," said sophomore quarterback Patrick Cowan, who will make his sixth consecutive start in place of injured Ben Olson tonight. "We've stuck together through some tough times. Where some other teams would have folded and called it a day, we've kept playing hard. This is a very strong team."
That was from Lonnie White of LA Times, who just happens to be a Trojan alum. Guess Lonnie considers getting blown out and embarrassed by Washington State at the Rose Bowl as some kind of "rebound" following the choke against Notre Dame.

In any event standards have became so downright pathetic in Dorrell's football program these days that coaches and players are raving about not so spectacular win against Oregon State as some sort of rejuvenation and getting excited about the possibility of playing in a bowl game, which no one except people from Hawaii and die hard Bruin fans will care about. From the Daily News:
If the Pacific-10 Conference doesn't have six teams with at least seven wins, UCLA likely would go to the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl if it finishes with six wins.

The bowl, played Dec. 24 in Honolulu, is excited about the possibility of UCLA playing the hometown Hawaii Warriors, which already accepted a bid.

"We'd love to have UCLA," said the bowl's executive director, Jim Donovan. "They're a great program and there are so many direct flights from LosAngeles to Hawaii, it's fairly price-efficient for (fans) to make the trip out here."

UCLA (5-5) has games against Arizona State (tonight) and USC (Dec. 2) remaining, and would clinch a bowl bid with wins in both.

However, if the Bruins split and there are less than six league teams with seven wins, the Hawaii Bowl would likely give the nod to a UCLA team over other six-win teams from the Pac-10, partly because of television ratings, sources said.

However, it is possible a six-win UCLA team would get shut out of a bowl.
Riveting stuff. Talk about high stakes of college football. You can see there is lot on the line for Karl Dorrell's exciting football program during this second season. Anyways, Bruins are taking on another mediocre Pac-10 program, which has had Bruins' number on their home turf in recent years. OC Register's Kuwada chronicles Bruins recent nightmares at Tempe. Kuwada also has a nice breakdown of today's game for the awesome Hawaii Bowl:
OFFENSE

The Bruins managed to put some points on the scoreboard in the second half of their victory over Oregon State, scoring two touchdowns and two field goals. They had scored only 17 points in the six second-half quarters of their three previous games, all losses. But any talk of a turnaround would be premature until they can show some consistency.

DEFENSE

When the Bruins have attacked, they have been pretty good. Tackling has been a problem and could be again against Sun Devils backs Ryan Torain and Keegan Herring, who are averaging 5.3 and 6.1 yards per carry. But they should be able to get some pressure on quarterback Rudy Carpenter, limiting his effectiveness. Arizona State has allowed 28 sacks.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Sun Devils' Terry Richardson has missed the past four games because of a sprained right knee ligament, but he is nearing a return and if he plays today the Bruins could have some problems. Richardson is averaging 33.6 yards on nine kickoff returns and 11.1 yards in 19 punt returns. Punter Jonathan Johnson is averaging 41.0 yards per kick.
Per Kuwada this is also the key individual matchup of tonight's game:
Arizona State tight end Zach Miller against UCLA linebacker John Hale. The Bruins might be able to do some things to help out in coverage, and Miller definitely warrants it. The Sun Devils tight end is leading the team with 37 receptions and receiving yards with 384 and at 259 pounds is adept at catching the football in traffic and shedding tacklers.
I'd add couple of more things in terms of what we may want to lookout for in tonight's game:
  • If Olson is 90 percent healthy, I wouldn't mind seeing him getting a series or two, if Cowan is ineffective like he was during first half against Oregon State. Let's hope he is not. But if he is leading an offense which is settling for FGs, instead of TDs in the red zone, I'd consider as a sign of ineffective offense.

  • Second, I'd like to see Ketchum, Chane Moline, and Darrick Williams get some action today. Specially Kethcum. Whenever he has been in the game he has made his presence felt (for i.e. a key grab on third down against the Beavers last weekend). And at this point he has shown lot more ability than Buamgartner in key passing situations. Similarly Moline has shown his ability in the red zone.
I'd sure hope the coaches show confidence in their young talent in a game like this (in which nothing major is on the line), and build for the future. Otherwise if Dorrell continues to coach like he is afraid to lose, we are going to continue to see the uninspiring and mediocre performances, we have seen from our program this whole season. For more game coverage here is today's report from the LA Times, written up by Trojan alum Lonnie White.

Lots of huge games today in college football (not involving Dorrell's 5 loss team). We will be back later with our game day thread. A pineapple bowl or Hawaii Bowl or whatever is on the line. Hey it's high stakes Saturday for Dorrell's football program.

GO BRUINS.