Let's get to business right away this Sunday. If you haven't made your travel plans to Washington for the 29th, let's get it done. I have already changed up my flights and bought couple of tickets from the UCLA website. If you haven't done it yet, please go to this link and buy your tickets right now. Considering where we have been in recent years, I think this bowl game presents the perfect opportunity for the UCLA football program to take the next step, and set itself up for another step forward in Rick Neuheisel's third season in Westwood.
Yes, I know I am being a little selfish here because I get to see the Bruins in the town I live in. However, there are number of reasons this is a big opportunity for the UCLA program. We get to go up against a Temple Owl team, which is surging the way Rutgers and UConn programs have been in recent years. This is going to be matchup between two cities from two huge sports cities in LA and Philly, so a huge chunk of the country will tune in (no wonder EagleBank Bowl execs and WWL brass were so excited). Plus, it will give CRN and his staff an opportunity to directly showcase the prgogram to recruits out in the Easter seaboard. Lastly, speaking of the Eastern seaboard, not sure for the alums living in Boston, NYC, Philadelphia, Boston, and up and down the entire East Coast, we will have an opportunity to take in our football team, in a city with so much to offer.
I have always dreamed about UCLA scheduling home and home with schools like UVa and Boston College over the years so that we could have huge gatherings in cities like DC and Boston. Now we have it thanks to this bowl game. So, let's take advantage of this. Let's gobble up the tickets and flood DC with Bruin Blue around the Holidays.
CRN is obviously excited:
"After the trepidation of the first half of the Army-Navy game, I was thrilled to see the Midshipmen have that second half and get us this opportunity," UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel said. "You obviously would like to have your destiny in your own hands. We knew we needed some help. I just made sure with our coaches that we're not in this situation again next year."
Similarly Al Golden and his Temple football team are fired up to play UCLA:
About 90 minutes into Temple's banquet, it was announced that Navy had defeated Army, 17-3, dropping the Black Knights to 5-7 and making them ineligible to play Temple, or anybody else, in a postseason game.
A big roar and then applause filled the hotel dining hall, because the Army-Navy outcome meant that the Owls (9-3) would be taking on high-profile UCLA as a bowl opponent at RFK Stadium in Washington.
"It's East-West, and it's the second-largest media market [L.A] against the fourth-largest media market [Philadelphia]," Temple coach Al Golden said. "But after that, they have some dudes over there. I haven't watched them much, but I know they have some great players. It's going to be a great day."
That was from the Phildelphia Inquirer, which has more on the excitement around Temple program with their upcoming matchup against our Bruins. More on those guys and other notes around this game after the jump.Chris Foster from the LA Times has an early scouting report on the Owls:
Temple ranks 23rd nationally in rushing offense. The Owls' Bernard Pierce is 11th in rushing with 1,308 yards. Temple ranks 19th against the run.
"The ability to run the ball and stop the run usually equals victory," Neuheisel said. "Their defensive linemen remind me of the type of guys I would see play on Sunday."
UCLA struggled against the run at times this season. The Bruins gave up 150 or more yards rushing in seven games this season.
Still, Temple's schedule included only one team from a BCS conference. The Owls were routed by Penn State, 31-6, in the second game of the season. Their other losses were against Villanova and Ohio.
All but one of UCLA's games were against BCS conference teams.
"I looked at their schedule and could see why they felt they deserved a bowl game with six wins," Golden said. "Many of their losses were to teams ranked in the top 25."
Neuehisel immediately took note of Temple's rushing offense and defense:
"Those are usually huge indicators of how you do at the end of the day," Neuheisel said. "To be able to be an effective football team you have to be able to do both of those things. That's why they're 9-3. We know it's going to be a big challenge, but we're just excited to have that challenge."
Foster has some more random notes on the Temple program with a silly, concern trolling headline. We will be talking a lot about this game in the coming days. I think it is going to be interesting to see both our offensive and defensive coaching staff scheme for this game. Thankfully CRN is not going to cancel any practices just because of rain:
After canceling practices on Friday and Saturday with the Bruins' bowl prospects were still in limbo, Neuheisel said the team would resume preparation today, rain or shine. "We weren't sure we were going to be in it," Neuheisel said. "Now that we're sure, if the weather is still poor, we'll go. We're playing now."
After canceling practices on Friday and Saturday with the Bruins' bowl prospects were still in limbo, Neuheisel said the team would resume preparation today, rain or shine.
"We weren't sure we were going to be in it," Neuheisel said. "Now that we're sure, if the weather is still poor, we'll go. We're playing now."
FWIW it is freezing and raining out here in DC. I hope the team and all of you are ready for some real football weather. I am hoping for snow!
Speaking of gathering in DC, if you are coming out here please make sure to comment in this thread. I think it would be cool to get idea who from BN are heading out here for the Holidays. May be if its feasible and there is a big interest we can organizing a big happy hour on Monday before the game. We will have to check in with the DC Bruins alumni group and also the Morgan Center folks to make sure we are not double booking. Either way, this is a game that everyone should get fired up for in next two weeks.
Let's hope our guys take advantage of these two extra week of practices, prepare their heart out, and then finish with a flourish here in DC. Coming together in DC and getting a victory would be the perfect way to end the decade after all the heartbreaks and disappointments from recent years.