Sure, on a given day in the Pac Ten Conference anyone can sneak up and serve you your lunch, but very few things point to a competitive game and even fewer point to a Bruin victory.
Certainly the name "UCLA" strikes a familiar tune with most, if not all fanatics and/or casual observers, along with their wives, girlfriends, mothers and anyone else with a heartbeat, five senses and a memory longer than my big toe. But a preceding reputation's value on the football field equals that of hands in Soccer. In other words none, and you're actually penalized for any effort to implement said tool.
So aside from nearly a zillion Basketball titles and a campus encompassing all that college dreams have to offer, what can the University of California Los Angeles (doesn't sound quite as cool when you put it that way, does it?) use in an effort to frighten the Ducks and convince onlookers, myself included, that they will offer formidable opposition this afternoon?
There's famous alumni; athletes aside, Bruin grads have donned your television and movie screens for years. Be it Mayim Bialik, "Blossom" to most, or everyone's beloved "Winnie Cooper" from the long-running hit Wonder Years. Certainly you've seen what she did to poor Kevin Arnold throughout his pre-teen and adolescent years. Just imagine what spells she could cast on the likes of Dennis Dixon and JD Nelson.
Then there's Sean Astin, otherwise known as Sam Wise Gangy from the Lord of The Rings or notably, Rudy Ruettiger from the movie Rudy. They may have actually had something here, until I realized that the likelihood of hearing chants of "Cowan…Cowan!" coming from anywhere in Autzen Stadium Saturday were slim to none at best.
What about Gil Garcetti, the city of Los Angeles' District Attorney for eight years, known infamously for his role in the Rodney King case and more notably, the O.J. Simpson trial? Sorry, if you couldn't convict the "Juice" with that evidence, your credibility suffers tremendously.
How about Mark Harmon? Now were talkin'. His credits include a role as a doctor on the television hit St. Elsewhere, a detective in the movie Presidio, in which he starred opposite legendary James Bond portrayer Sean Connery, and actually taking snaps under center for UCLA as their starting quarterback in 1972 and 73'. So, not only is he capable of tending to fallen Bruin players and investigating any potential wrongdoing on the part of the referees (History says this is an unfortunate reality.), he may actually be an asset with the pigskin as well.
Surely, this can't be all the Bruins have to offer.
How about frightening and daunting uniforms? Nah, if they wrap a newborn in a blanket donning your team color, it's probably not that frightening.
Legendary coach? Nope. Aside from doing a fine job on L.A. Law, Blair Underwood's record at UCLA is 22-15. Not bad, but certainly not worthy of Bill Belichick status.
Alright, all kidding aside, UCLA does bring a "nice" defense to Eugene…at least statistically. The problem is, while ranked at or near the top of every statistical category in the Pac Ten, the Bruins' two conference opponents thus far have a combined 6-12 overall record and are 2-7 in conference play. Washington, their only formidable opponent to date, not only beat them, but amassed over 200 yards through the air and did so with a run first throw second quarterback. Isaiah Stanback is a nice player, but I'm assuming Dennis Dixon will offer significantly more problems for the Bruin defense.
Much has been made of UCLA quarterback Pat Cowan making his first start against the Ducks, and rightfully so, but would Ben Olson's prospects have been much better? He would've been starting in just his sixth game, and while bringing a reputation and limited experience to the table, Rich Brooks Field is no place for the weary. Cowan is experienced in the system and showed signs of worth last week mopping up against Arizona, so don't use his back up status as a rallying point Duck fans. He's as capable as his predecessor; it's just the level of their capability that is to be questioned.
While the Bruins bring a 4-1 record to Oregon today, they bring with it an element of unknown. The defense looks good on paper, but games aren't played on paper. The coach brings a winning resume, but against who? The school brings a notable tradition and desirable location, but its worth is limited at best come game time. I really don't think this is a tough game for the Ducks. They have a superior offense, a capable defense and a home field advantage second-to-none. I expect a lot of yards, many points and a double-digit deficit for the "Socal's" come game's end. And there's not a celebrity around that can change that.
Ask Toby Keith.
Game Day: What's There To Be Afraid Of?
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