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A Different Feeling than Last Year

It's ucla Week!!

After last years loss to Oregon State SC went on a tear that put them in a position to play in their 3rd straight BCS Title game, they missed that goal when they lost to ucla 13-9. I remember chatting with DC Trojan online after the Notre Dame game and how fired up I was going into the ucla game. I really thought we had that game in the bag and it was disappointing to say the least that we fell short and it showed where SC needed to improve if they wanted to get back to the Title game in 2007. We came into the is season over hyped with the pundits once again saying SC was the greatest, Blah Blah Blah...

I was not ready to buy into the hype for two reasons, 1) the lack of a dominant running back and 2) the uncertainty at the receiver position. There were other issues as well but these were the most glaring. SC fans got their wish in getting rid of Kiffin as the OC but would Sarkisian, running the show by himself, be the answer? I am not going to rehash the whole season here, as there will be plenty of time for that later, but how we have performed this season sets up for how we will play against ucla on Saturday.

For SC this week there are no MNC hopes only another shot at a Pac-10 title. That is a great accomplishment in my eyes because we are a Pac-10 team first. Across town, ucla is unsure where they will end up and a good portion of the fan base is more concerned about the future of the coach instead of the future of the team, though the argument could be made that getting rid of the coach will help the future of the team...we'll see.

With 20 or so returning starters expectations were high across town. There were those who thought that with all that returning talent and a favorable schedule that ucla would actually compete not only for a Pac-10 title but quite possibly a BCS Title. I think their eyes were bigger than their stomachs as there is nothing in the Dorrell regime that would indicate that ucla could achieve either of those goals.

The controversy surrounding the ucla program in regards to the future of Karl Dorrell has been an interesting one to watch. Whether or nor not you agree with the tone, content or impression of Karl Dorrell on both or Bruins Nation, KD's record stands on its own. He is an underachieving coach who probably should not have been hired in the first place. He is also a polarizing figure to the point where some in the ucla fan base don't care about the game this week and simply want the season to be over to facilitate the end of the Dorrell regime. I think it's a given that he is gone but one can never know.

Like USC, the bruins had their fair share of injuries and while some will point to that as a reason for ucla's lackluster performance this season, I think we would all agree that it has to do more with the coaching than with injuries. But ucla has also been one of the more mysterious teams this season winning games you thought they would lose and losing games that they were expected to win easily. Last years USC game was one such game and while it was an excruciating loss for us it defined their season. It was the only thing that the bruin faithful could hang their hat on, as once again they failed to meet even the basic expectations.

That being said he is still the coach and these are his players and there have been games when you didn't know what team would show up. There have been numerous comments on how bad a coach KD is and while I think there is plenty of evidence to support that- the one thing keeps bugging me is how it is ALL KD's fault. It would seem to me that if KD is the problem for all the losses than he should at least get the credit when the team wins.

I'm not really sure how DC Trojan and I will cover this week. We will of course follow what's in the press and we may look at a few other things leading up to this week's game but the expectations for the two teams are on very different paths. For SC the goal is right there in front of us, take care of business on the field and we hit our goal. For ucla its much less clear because the fan base is fractured and even if KD is let go there is no guarantee that his replacement will live up to the expectations of many in the fan base.

We'll see how it goes.