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Demolish The Irish: Gameday Roundup

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Hello everyone. My heart goes out to Menelaus, Ajax and rest of our BN family members who spend their summer following the Halos Heaven. As the proverbial cliché goes it's no over, and I for one (full disclosure I hate the Red Sox (last night wasn't fun for me either) almost as much as I hate the TrOJies) will be rooting for a Halos come back when they get back in action in the OC. On to our gameday.

One of the easy storyline for today's game (LA Times, OC Register, and Chicago Tribune) is how Bruins need to avenge the nightmare of last year's defeat at South Bend. However, for me that storyline is moot since it was more of a classic Dorrellian choke job, than a Irish victory. The storyline for today is the one Dohn sets up this am, which is whether the Bruins will able to prevent a classic Dorrellian let down:

Nearly 83 years have passed since Notre Dame and its Four Horsemen traveled 2,000 miles to play Stanford in the granddaddy of all bowl games, but tonight, when the Irish return to the Rose Bowl, they will try to pull the mother of all upsets against UCLA.

And UCLA's five seasons under coach Karl Dorrell suggests it is possible.

After UCLA, a 16-point favorite, was ambushed by 38points last month at Utah, and with a string of defeats as a heavy favorite pasted on Dorrell's resume, losing to the Irish (0-5) doesn't seem as outlandish as the storied Notre Dame program opening the season with five losses.

"(Notre Dame) is a lot better than their record," Bruins quarterback Ben Olson said. "They're an athletic team. They're not a bad team in any sense. We have to go out there and respect them. We've been in situations before where the team has been a little bit down and we made them look like superstars. We need to make sure that doesn't happen."

UCLA (4-1) is a 20 1/2-point favorite, and excels at home, where it has won 14 of its past 15 games. However, a UCLA-induced condition is prevalent whenever the Bruins are big favorites.

Dorrell's record is 33-22, but half of those losses came when UCLA was favored, and the 44-6 loss at Utah is not an isolated incident. The Bruins were 14-point favorites and lost at home to Washington State in 2004, and as 12-point favorites lost to Wyoming in the Las Vegas Bowl to close that season.

There is also the 2005 debacle in the desert, when the seventh-ranked and 8-0 Bruins, nine-point favorites, were beaten by 38 points at Arizona.
Because of games likes those, today's matchup doesn't have much meaning to me. Even if the Bruins score a blowout win, which they should, it will only bring them up to a point where we expect them to be given this is Dorrell's "show me" season. And despite the expected 5-1 record after today's game, the stain of Utah loss will remain intact.

Now it is good to hear Olson saying the right things unlike his team-mates from other side of the ball.

Lot of eyes are going to be on Olson and Clausen today. Foster from the LA Times has a look at the Olson v. Clausen angle, and how Olson remains the focal point of Dorrell's program:
The Bruins' hierarchy has to believe that, as Olson remains the cornerstone of what UCLA hopes to build into a championship season.

"I've played football enough to realize that you take the wins any way you can get them," Olson said. "I'm just trying to show my teammates they can count on me to make clutch plays."

Of course, Olson has been trying to prove his worth since leaving Thousand Oaks High, where the Elway comparison was attached.

Said Dorrell: "We want him to create his own niche for himself."
Yet again Dorrell failed to be straight forward and honest wrt to the state of his mediocre program, conveniently omitting the fact that it has to be him and his below average coaching staff, who has to put Olson in best possible situation to take advantage of his physical talents, which invoked the comparison to John Elway when he came out of highschool and later transferred to UCLA. It will be ultimately Dorrell's responsibility for putting Olson in situation to succeed.

Anyways for more on the game from the Daily News, which has a profile on Dominique Johnson who has been really coming on last few games.

And DumpDorrell.com does an excellent job of summarizing how despite Morgan Center's best efforts thanks to Dorrell's boring football program lot of the excitement around this game has fizzled:
Morgan Center has been pimping this game since last Spring, forcing those interested in seeing the game to buy multi-game packages or season tickets just to get decent seats.  And it worked.  We have record season ticket sales.  The PR about the game early in the season was that it was sold out ... then suddenly there were a few tickets remaining, just a few so get them quickly.  Then even this week, somehow, Morgan Center found a few thousand more.  Too late, so many tickets have been hitting the ticket brokers that asking prices were sinking below stub price.  All over the internets you see "Notre Dame tix for sale (4)."   This game has become somewhat meaningless for both teams and their fans, and the media and sports fans at large.

Obviously Notre Dame's season is long since shot.  At 0-5 they are playing next year's preseason right now.  Which is a good way to look at it.  Without the burden of expectations, Weiss can play his freshman and sophomores, his true recruits, instead of the horrible barren senior class Willingham left him with, and the junior class they somewhat share responsibility for.  Notre Dame bloggers mentioned on The Bruin Show earlier this week that somewhere near 11 freshman get significant playing time.  They figure next year this team will be decent.  And the following year they will have so many 3 year starters, plus some good recruiting classes behind them, that making this year the preseason for it all will be viewed as genius, not the disaster that it currently is.

As for UCLA, the faithful have lost their interest in Dorrell and the vibe you see on the boards is one of uneasy inevitability.  There is no faith in Dorrell and we all know we haven't yet played the tough teams.  All the promise of this once-in-a-decade season was buried in Utah, along with the fraud of the Karl Dorrell era.  All that remains is the disappointing but expected truth - this team's destiny is largely determined already by the incompetence of its coach.  Now we get to see the train wreck as it happens.
I will hope against hope that there won't be a train wreck and Dorrell despite all the evidence against him will somehow manage to win the Pac-10 championship, prove all of us wrong and take his "alleged" WCO scheme to the (N)on (F)un (L)eague where he may fit in. But for that it has to start with a demolition of the Irish today.

We will be back with our game thread later today. As we have said all week anything less than a blowout in over the Irish, will be considered as a disappointment.

GO BRUINS.