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He’s Positive Bruins Won This Bowl Game

The situation here probably calls for a positive column, so obviously I’m at a loss on how to continue.

UCLA Coach Karl Dorrell was standing atop a platform, the celebration in full swing all around him as he accepted the Sun Bowl championship trophy from the president of the parent company sponsoring the game -- Helen of Troy.

So I’m thinking, “Troy,” too bad, UCLA, it’s always Troy this and that even in your finest moment, which then reminded me of the big game, the game that counts, USC and Texas, and now that’s really going to be fun.

Meanwhile, everyone around me was gushing about the Sun Bowl, and the hospitality here as if they were really happy to be spending several valuable days of their lives in this pit, especially given the Thursday morning headline across the front page of the El Paso Times: “Flu in EP, Spreading.”

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OK, I was there for the Silicon Valley Classic and the Las Vegas Bowl, so any kind of bowl win for UCLA is pretty darn incredible, even one over a school that hasn’t won a bowl game since 1949.

I could see for myself how giddy the Bruin fans were after the game, and while I wish I had the time to say hello to all 25 of them, the flu was spreading.

A win, though, is a win, and UCLA just beat mighty Northwestern, which is known for attracting smart people, and which just played the team with the worst rushing defense in all of college football, and threw the ball 70 times.

Despite such foolishness, they tell me this is big, because UCLA has now won 10 games, and that’s happened only seven times in school history -- primarily because the NCAA allowed teams to only play 11 games for many years. But details, details, although I’m guessing USC spends more time counting its national titles than 10-win seasons.

The fact is, the Bruins might have won 11 games this season had they not tanked against Arizona, and I’m pretty positive about that.

They also might have only won nine games this season had they not played such a mediocre bowl opponent in Northwestern.

I know, I know, I might not sound as enchanted with UCLA’s success as I should be, but I have just sat through more than four hours of dropped passes, six fumbles, five interceptions, a pair of unsportsmanlike penalties from UCLA with the game on the line along with a penalty for having too many men on the field. I haven’t even mentioned the Northwestern kicker who had a field-goal attempt blocked, missed two extra-point attempts and then attempted an onside kick that was returned for a touchdown, and to prove it was no fluke, did it again -- in exactly the same manner -- a few minutes later.

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After all that I’m supposed to write a gee-whiz-golly-gee column because, as quarterback Drew Olson said, the Bruins “showed character” in overcoming a 22-0 deficit, somehow managing to score 50 points against the worst-ranked defense in the entire country. If you’re going to fall behind by 22 points in the first quarter, and by your own inept makings and apparent lack of character early on, who better to be the opponent than the team that can’t stop anyone?

Northwestern is now 7-5 and its coach, Randy Walker, is now 37-46 overall at the school, and I know I’m supposed to be thrilled that UCLA whipped Northwestern, but doesn’t everybody?

“I say, ‘Every day of your life you’re painting a picture,’ ” Walker said, and maybe one day soon he’ll be an artist, because putting together a gameplan in a bowl game, based on his 0-3 mark to date, is obviously not his forte.

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GOOD FOR Dorrell, though, he won a bowl game, got a bucket of water tossed over his head, and like the Dodgers who won a fluke playoff game two years ago, he now has something to build on for next season.

As a team, the Bruins were talking after the game as if they had made a statement with this win, which is nice, but they really had that chance a few weeks ago when they took on the top team in college football.

Oh well, no question, though, they are better than Northwestern. And I’m thrilled to report that, and feel pretty good about writing something positive for a change.

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THEY ASKED the media to vote for the special-teams player of the game, and collected the ballots before Brandon Breazell returned a pair of onside kicks for touchdowns in the closing minutes. Someone obviously doctored the ballots, because when they announced the special teams player of the game, Breazell got the hardware although most reporters were already on the field preparing to cover the postgame activity.

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I’M NOT surprised to read that Frank McCourt wanted to follow in Georgia Frontiere’s footsteps.

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MILLIE AND Oscar De La Hoya announced the birth of their 9-pound, 7-ounce son, apparently passing on the opportunity to name the kid T.J., thereby guaranteeing him future fights, and went with Oscar Gabriel.

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TODAY’S LAST word comes in e-mail from AB:

“The cyclical nature of sports and life keep me happy and looking forward to the time when the Trojans are (lousy) once again (and the Bruins are the best in town). I only hope I’ll be able to search out your personal email address to give you a witty jab of my own -- as I’m sure you will no longer be at the L.A. Trojan Times.”

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If that day ever comes, just address it to t.j.simers@diehardbruinlover.com

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T.J. Simers can be reached at t.j.simers@latimes.com. To read previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers.


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