Bruins have a game today which the local traditional media is hyping up as a "surefire UCLA blowout," showing absolutely no respect for a group of student athletes (who are doing everything they can to pull themselves together as a program) and providing them one bulletin board clip after another. Despite best efforts lot of UCLA fans have become totally complacent about today's matchup and frankly lot of Cougar fans are not showing any sign of hope.
So we will do what we can to provide some counter balance and start this game day roundup with some grim numbers. Bruins have a 6 game losing streak in the month of November. They are already 0-1 this Pac-10 conference season starting at an incredibly difficult stretch with road games in Berkeley and in Eugene with two difficult home games to follow. So forget the idea of a blowout, the Bruins need a win in this game - badly - to even their record in this conference. They need to remind themselves of what took place during last year's difficult October stretch and what took place when Texas looked ahead to Oklahoma and Nebraska.
Thankfully the Bruins haven't forgotten their recent ugly record in October:
"Probably the worst five weeks of my life," All-America free safety Rahim Moore said. "Just remembering that feeling of being a loser."
Said quarterback Kevin Prince, "It wasn't fun and we don't plan on doing it again. I think we learned from it."
The lessons were painful. During the losing streak, the Bruins wasted a series of outstanding individual performances, and a fourth quarter comeback in Corvallis with a string of turnovers, mental mistakes and letdowns.
And at least their head coach is trying his best to make the Bruins realize why the Cougars need "full attention" from UCLA:
"The proof will be in the pudding. We've got to come out to and play with the same energy that we played with the last two weeks," UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel said. "Be excited about a chance to play college football, regardless of the circumstances.
"This is a huge game for them, and obviously we've got to match fire with fire."
If the Bruins don't match the passion and intensity we can expect from a Washington State team, which has always played their competitive best and then some more at the Rose Bowl over the years, they (along with the entire Bruin Nation) will get embarrassed again. More after the jump.
Jeff at Coug Center is not feeling hopeful about this afternoon in his "Tailgater's Guide" to WSU football yet he offers up good reasons why Cougar fans will be watching this game and rest of this season:
I think we all know why we watch the games at this point. To see how long the Cougs stay in it, and the hope of either: a) seeing a remarkable play by someone like Marquess Wilson or b) the off chance WSU might keep the game close or win (yes, there is that chance).
We, as fans, have put our hope on the equivalent of a 40-1 longshot in a horse race. And we have eight races left to see if the underdog can conjure up some magic.
Too many times we have seen opponents conjuring up that magic against a cocky bunch of Bruins (who really have had no reason to be cocky in this past decade) at the Rose Bowl. Jeff pointed the matchup between Jet Ski and the WSU linebackers as the "key matchup" as from the Cougars POV they can't let Franklin go beyond the second level. As for Franklin, it will be interesting to see how he performs this afternoon after two huge games against couple of Texas teams. Currently he is third in the Pac-10 with 409 yards (behind LaMichael James and Shane Vereen). From the LA Times:
The last UCLA back to have three consecutive 100-yard games was Maurice Jones-Drew in 2004.
"He's our guy," offensive coordinator Norm Chow said of Franklin. "He realized he had a problem. The problem went away.
"He's a leader and he's matured. That one in Texas was a perfect hit. It was important for Johnathan that we put him right back in."
While JetSki will get the start, I am also hoping for a healthy dose of Malcolm Jones (along with Derrick Coleman). I think Jones lost a little bit of his aggressiveness following the fumbles against Houston. While he did okay in Austin in his limited carries, little bit of his aggression was gone. Sure hope he gets opportunities to recapture the form he displayed during first two games of the season. To get more perspectives on today's game from the Cougar POV read Vince Grippi's writeup in the Seattle Times and the breakdown in the Spokane Examiner.
Kickoff is schedule for 12:30 pm PST. We will have our game thread go up around 12:00 pm PST. Until then you can use this post for your pre-game thread.