Warning: This is a sports entry…
ast week, the UCLA Bruins played a horror flick against Stanford. For three quarters, they were dying a horrible death. The first two possessions went three and out–that means they could not get a first down in three tries and were forced to kick the ball back to the other team. Meanwhile, Stanford slowly built a lead. They are no Jason or Freddie, but they were scaring the living daylights out of me. On their first possession they drove down the field for a touchdown. In the third quarter, they scored 10 more points–one TD thanks to a fumble by Mo Drew–while the Bruins barely scored a field goal in the second quarter. By the fourth quarter, it was 17-3 Stanford. I was watching the game peeking through my fingers.
About five minutes into the quarter, Marcus Everett, a wide receiver, trying desperately to gain extra yards, reached out with the football toward the first down marker. I pound the floor with fists tightly balled up. It’s not a loaf of bread! I scream at the TV as my mind conjures unwelcomed zombie-like images of Wendall Tyler. Frightfully, presciently, woefully, inevitably, and promptly, he fumbled it to Stanford. Why do characters in a scary movie do exactly what they’re not supposed to do? Don’t open that door. Don’t go into the basement alone. Don’t hold the football like a loaf of bread. Aargh! With such a short field in front of them, Stanford easily score another touchdown making it 24-3. That’s a 21 point lead–twenty-one points! I stare at the TV, certain that UCLA will lose its first game. The Bruins are dead. Long live the Bruins.
M was tooling around the house all the while. She told me yesterday that she was actually afraid to talk to me, I was so quiet. Usually, I’m making a ruckus, rooting our boys on, cursing the referee for a bad call, something. But there was nary a peep out of me. She said that she thought I’d bite her head off if she had said something to me. I’m sure I wouldn’t have, but I was truly frustrated, disgusted with the performance of my beloved team. I was sealed off from the rest of the world, suffering an insufferable sight. They’re gonna lose, I warn myself. It’s only a game, I try to convince myself. 7-1 is not so bad. I mean, no one thought they’d play this well this season. 7-1? No, not bad at all, I try to comfort myself.
In silence, I watched Stanford kick the ball back to UCLA with 8:26 left in the game. That would be the last half of the last quarter of the game, an insufferably long time to endure the pain of watching my team lose. A frustratingly short time to score three touchdowns just to tie the game. And then the horror flick really kicks into gear. The Bruins go into a two minute drill, setting up plays in a no huddle offense. Drew Olson leads the bruins down the field to a touchdown in one minute and twenty-two seconds. Huh? 24-10. What happened all of a sudden? The dead aren’t really dead. Th… th… they’re ALIVE! Aaaaaaaaaaah!
A cry of glee emboldens M to enter the living room. “We finally scored,” I said as I kept my eyes glued to the TV. We kick off to Stanford, but the defense stops them cold. Three and out. There ya’ go, that’s just what we needed… Again, Drew leads a no huddle offense from their own 28 yard line and, boom! scores another touchdown in three plays. That’s 72 yards in THREE PLAYS. 24-17. We kick the ball back to Stanford and they manage one first down, but soon have to punt it back to us with more than two minutes left in the game.
“Woo hoo!” I scream, as I give M a big hug. “They’re alive! They’re alive!” Well, the Bruins march down the field for the tying touchdown and when they go into overtime, I’m incredibly confident. “We’ve won,” I tell M, unafraid of jinxing the team by making such a prediction. I mean, they were already dead. How do you kill a team that was already dead? Turning me into a prophet, the Bruins hold Stanford to a field goal, then immediately score a touchdown on the second play of their possession. UCLA 30 – Stanford 27.
What a Halloween of a game. They scared the living bejeezus outa me.
Anyway, they are now 8-0, ranked 7th in the AP poll and 5th in the BCS. No one, I mean NO ONE thought the Bruins would be in this position. But we have two more games before the big showdown against our nemesis. The team we love to hate… but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Today, we play Arizona. They are near the bottom of the Pac 10, but that doesn’t mean they are not dangerous. Washington State and Washington ARE at the bottom and we had to comeback against them as well. No team can be taken for granted and I hope our boys are focused and ready to play a team led by Mike Stoops, brother Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and the defensive genius who developed the great OU defense. UCLA will have their hands full. I hope they resist the urge to look ahead.