Losers again…

As we were walking towards the stadium yesterday morning, I threw out the question, “So what if we do win? What happens, do we keep going to these things, or do we stop?” Well, it’s a quandary that can wait at least one more year, since the Wildcats were unable to overcome a variety of deficiencies on both sides and lost their 5th bowl game of the last 10 years.

This was probably the wildest one of the bunch, when the ‘Cats took an early 22-0 lead, capitalizing on 3 straight interceptions in the first quarter from the UCLA quarterback who’d only thrown 3 others all season. But Rich prophetically said it would be tied by halftime, and he was correct, as the defense went to sleep in the second quarter and allowed huge plays on ground in rapid succession. The Wildcats defnese the other 3 quarters was pretty solid, but in spite of their repeated efforts at stopping the UCLA offense, the Wildcats couldn’t get anything going until late in the game. Down by 11 with less than 4 minutes in the game, there was still every reason to believe that the offense would suddenly come to life, and sure enough they drove down the field for a touchdown, but on the ensuing onside kick the Bruins special teams took the ball and ran it in unmolested for a score of their own. So we got the ball back and did it again, and kicked another onside kick, which was returned again by the same guy for another special teams touchdown, and the game was over.

I didn’t go to the Motor City Bowl two years ago, so my last bowl experience was in 2000 at San Antonio, where we never had a chance and we were never in the game after the first quarter. I think the Wildcat fans have increased their expectations since then, and while very appreciative when things were going our way, they were less inclined to be forgiving of questionable play calling or broken plays. Nestled between Smith and Cohen, I got a running commentary on what Walker was doing wrong, and it does seem that in the big games he goes a little conservative. Basanez did not have an all-star performance, but he threw 70 passes and more than a few of them just bounced off the numbers of the receivers for no apparent reason.

So all the locals who showed up were treated to quite the performance, and while UCLA looked foolish in the first quarter they pulled things together and played consistently the rest of the game, keeping things interesting with a couple of stupid penalties on the last two NU drives that kept the Cats in the game longer than they should have. The Wildcats on the other hand looked formidable in the first quarter but then fell apart in the second, and while they evened things out in the second half those onside kicks were the deathstroke. People on both sides of the field could only laugh at the last one that clinched the deal and sent us back to the rental cars, pondering where we will next be witness to thrills, chills and cold harsh reality of Wildcat football.

Getting to the game yesterday morning was easily accomplished, and we arrived early enough that parking wasn’t a problem (and it was free). We were inside before 11am, and for pre-game festivities they had a few army guys parachute onto the field, and halftime act Diamond Rio played a twangy country song that featured the word “bible” in the first stanza, which amused the NU fans around us and I would imagine brought a similar reaction from the UCLA crowd.

Off to breakfast now, I fill in the rest of the details later.