Sunday, October 18, 2009
My first UCLA fb game in 3 years
Finally went to my first Bruins football game in 3 years - the last game being the 2006 upset of sc. This time, we had seats right on the 50 yard line about 10 rows up. Actually, my seat was on the 46 yard line but whatever. Instead of parking on the golf course by the Rose Bowl as usual, my friend decided to park in the residential neighborhood so that we could make a quick getaway afterward.
After hiking to the stadium, we dropped by the Heisman tent and saw Cade McNown signing autographs. I'm not sure why SI/Nissan got Cade and not Gary Beban, who happens to be the only Heisman trophy winner UCLA has ever had. (I met Gary Beban once at a book signing when I worked retail at a bookstore). That said, Cade was the only UCLA QB in history to have beaten sc 4 times.
I still remember going undefeated in 1998 until our last regular season game (which was rescheduled from August because of some hurricane or other) at Miami. If we won, we would've faced Florida State for the National championship in the Fiesta Bowl. Miami was terrible in September but great in December. Cade's offense was averaging over 40 points a game but our defense was a little suspect, to say the least. Every game was a shootout. So Edgerrin James proceeded to run us over. again. and again. The Rose Bowl was no consolation (since Ron Dayne did the same thing). We may not sniff a title shot again for a long long time. Ironically, we'd all be happy with a Rose Bowl now, 10 years later.
So with a couple hours before gametime, we went to a friend's tailgate party which was a gathering of mostly Cal fans. Honestly, I would much rather Cal be our biggest rival instead of usc. At least I can respect Cal as an institution. And they have a mighty fine fight song. To me, usc is the equivalent of a ridiculously expensive city college. I'd rather sc be a smoking crater in the ground.
Anyway, this tailgate had brats, korean bbq, burgers and every kind of beverage you'd want. Nice Cal folk too. Though their team is easily more talented, they've all been disappointed by Cal football so much that they were already accepting a possible upset. Just 30 minutes before gametime, we made our way to the stadium. Its nice to have reserved seats so you don't have to go in hours before to stake a claim on seats like the students do.
The one thing I love about going to games is seeing the shiny Gold helmets and Bruin blue jerseys. They really just have that pop to the naked eye.
Too bad Cal jumped out to a 2 TD lead that they pretty much never relinquished. I think they had somewhere around 375 yards of offense in the first half, putting up 35 points. Jahved Best was spectacular with 2 long TD plays including a winding 70 yard run. He'll play on Sundays. Our Johnathan Franklin also bust open a 70 plus yarder which was really the only true highlight that I will remember. That and the fact that Locke's kickoff actually hit the crossbar of the goalpost. Wow.
In the 2nd half, we held their offense to 3 points but their defense picked-sixed a horrible throw by Kevin Prince late to seal the game. Prince was inaccurate throughout the game and had me firmly in the Richard Brehaut camp by the end of the 3rd quarter.
Obviously, our defense needs some more speed. This is the 3rd game in a row where we've been manhandled on the ground and gashed for big yards by the opposing running back. The weakness seems to be on the edge where our linebackers just can't get to the sideline in time. But its fair to say that we are a lot worse on defense than on paper. Offensively, we're probably just about where I had expected us to be - sometimes able to move the ball and often held for field goals instead. At least at UCLA, we'll always have the best FG kickers in the country. Kai Forbath is no exception.
So we're still stuck at 3 wins and my Cal friends are letting me have it. Whatever. At least we have a better fight song. heh.
Oh, did I mention that it was really hot?