Monday, December 21, 2009

T minus 1 week: Are you ready for some BOWL football?

I want to see a crowd this big at RFK Tuesday night, wearing all Cherry and White.

Free tickets

ESPN's Harry Mayes (left) will give away free trips (transportation and tickets) to the Eagle Bank Bowl. Listen at 12:45 and call in to 97.5 The Fan
Tuesday and Wednesday
By Mike Gibson
I had to laugh when I read in the Atlantic City Press this week that "this UCLA team might be better than the Cal team Temple faced in the Garden State Bowl."
It was written by someone who did nothing to support her claim other than throw that opinion out there.
I wondered if she was going to use one fact to back it up but, instead, she went onto the next random baseless thought.
First of all, I respect this UCLA team.
I've read up on this UCLA team.
To paraphrase Lloyd Bensten, I knew Cal 1979 and you, UCLA 2009, are no Cal 1979.
This UCLA team is good, but the Cal team the Owls beat in the Garden State Bowl was better.
That Cal team was 25 points away from being unbeaten prior to facing Temple.
That's not many points.
This UCLA team is 83 points away from an unbeaten season.
That Cal team beat three teams with six or more wins.
That Cal team lost to then No. 1 USC (and eventual Rose Bowl champ) by just 10 points.
This UCLA team while good, doesn't have those kinds of credentials.
Still, this is a huge challenge for the Owls and the best team they will face since the Penn State game. That didn't go well because the Owls got atrocious quarterback play in that game. Other than Vaughn Charlton hitting James Nixon in the hands for what should have been a 70-yard touchdown, they got no (zero, nada) plays from the quaterback position in that game. Heck, even against Eastern Michigan (Eastern Michigan, for cripes sake) they were 1 for 9 on third downs. That all comes back to the quarterback position and making plays.
You've got to get more from your quarterback to win games against a quality team.
I think these Owls will have to get exceptional quarterback play to beat this team.

Cal Bears 1979
9/8 @ *Arizona State (6-6) W 17 9
9/15 @ *Arizona (6-5-1) W 10 7
9/22 vs. San Jose State (6-4-1) W 13 10
9/29 vs. Michigan (8-4) L 10 14
10/6 @ *Oregon (6-5) L 14 19
10/13 vs. *Oregon State (1-10) W 45 0
10/20 @ *UCLA (5-6) L 27 28
10/27 vs. *Southern California (11-0-1) L 14 24
11/3 vs. *Washington (9-3) L 24 28
11/10 @ *Washington State (3-8) W 45 13
11/17 @ *Stanford (5-5-1) W 21 14
12/15 vs. Temple (10-2) L 17 28 @ East Rutherford, NJ Garden State Bowl
UCLA Bruins 2009
Sep. 5 San Diego St. W 33-14
Sep. 12 at Tennessee W 19-15
Sep. 19 Kansas State W 23-9
Oct. 3 at Stanford L 16-24
Oct. 10 Oregon L 10-24
Oct. 17 California L 26-45
Oct. 24 at Arizona L 13-27
Oct. 31 at Oregon State L 19-26
Nov. 7 Washington W 24-23
Nov. 14 at Wash. St. W 43-7
Nov. 21 Arizona State W 23-13
Nov. 28 at USC L 7-28
Dec. 29 vs. Temple 4:30pm

They have before.
I think Chester Stewart gave them exceptional quarterback play in the Akron game when he and Bernard Pierce helped put up 56 points.
Stewart's handoffs established Pierce as a big-time threat, then he played off the fear of Pierce with play-action passes all over the field to Temple's other playmakers.
Make no mistake about it.
Temple's got other playmakers.
James Nixon. Joey Jones. Jason Harper. Evan Rodriguez. Steve Manieri. Michael Campbell. Delano Green.
All these guys (with the possible exception of Manieri, sorry Steve) can do special things with the ball after the catch if the Owls are able to complete the intermediate and long passes.
They'll need something like that. Not the 56 points, but that kind of QB play to win this game. Spread the ball around and hit the play-action passes. Keep moving the ball around the field, not just relying on Pierce. Don't use Pierce on the first two downs and put yourself in situations where everybody in the stadium knows you are going to throw the ball on third.
These are simple, basic football idioms that offensive coordinator Matt Rhule proved he could master at Akron.
The Akron game gave Rhule a workable template of an offensive game plan. The Owls used it effectively in a 47-13 win over Kent State, but were forced away from it when Pierce got injured.
I'd like to see Rhule go back with the very same game plan he used against Akron. By establishing Pierce, then spreading the ball around, you make Pierce that much more effective when you go back to him.
But to say this UCLA team is or "might be" better than that California team is pulling something out of your backside that has no resemblance to the facts.
That Cal team had six wins.
This UCLA team has six wins.
That Temple team had nine wins.
This Temple team has nine wins.
The similarities with this game and that one ends right there.
The opportunity for Temple to gain respect nationally with a win on the field and a good showing in the stands is the same and that's important enough.