8:00 PM ET, October 6, 2007
Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- The only other time Notre Dame visited Pasadena, the Fighting Irish left town with a convincing victory and their first undisputed national championship.
Nobody will mistake this Notre Dame team for coach Knute Rockne's "Four Horsemen," who defeated coach Pop Warner's Stanford team 27-10 team in the 1925 Rose Bowl.
When coach Charlie Weis and winless Notre Dame face UCLA in the storied stadium on Saturday, the Irish (0-5) hope they can avoid sinking even farther into futility.
"That's going to be unbelievable," Notre Dame tackle Sam Young said. "There's so much history in there. We play in a lot of stadiums like that, but the Rose Bowl just has this aura about it."
Weis has been in the Rose Bowl, but this will be his first time as coach.
"It's a fabulous venue," he said. "Pasadena is a beautiful city, town, and I think that our players are going to be excited because really it's a nice place to go."
It could turn ugly.
Already off to the worst start in school history, another loss would match Notre Dame's longest losing streak -- eight in a row.
The last time the Irish lost eight straight was in 1960, when they won their opener, then didn't win again until the final game of the season.
Outscored by an average of 36-12 this season, Notre Dame is a three-touchdown underdog against the Bruins (4-1, 3-0 Pac-10).
Then again, maybe the Irish will get lucky and catch UCLA napping, the way Utah did in a stunning 44-6 victory over the then-No. 10 Bruins in the third game of the season.
"We just keep trying to build and come together as a team," Notre Dame tailback Junior Jabbie said. "We're just trying to play a complete game and get our first win."
That's what Weis wants the team to concentrate on, certainly not the fact they could lose their eighth straight.
"I don't think they're worrying about history. They're trying to get the first win," he said.
"I don't think they're worrying about any games from last year. I don't think they're worried about 1960. They're just trying to get one win, trying to beat UCLA."
The Irish played a few good halves this year, but have been unable to put a full game together. They were able to run the ball and had a good first half against Michigan State in a 31-14 loss, then came to life and got their passing game going in the second half of last weekend's 33-19 defeat by Purdue.
Weis said there was some excitement as the Irish outscored Purdue 19-10 in the second half.
"For the first time, you could feel it on the sideline, you could feel the difference on the sideline," he said. "Now that doesn't do you any good if they left it there.
"They've got to bring it with them this week, and we have a couple of ways we're trying to help manifest that situation."
UCLA coach Karl Dorrell considers Notre Dame a dangerous team and he wants to make sure his team is focused, something several of the players said wasn't the case against Utah.
Bruins cornerback Trey Brown said he and his teammates will be plenty focused.
"We can't let their record fool you. Whether they're 0-5 or 30-0, we've got to treat this team like any other team, go out there and play dominant football for four quarters," he said.
The Bruins, 0-3 all-time against Notre Dame, also would like to avenge last year's 20-17 loss at South Bend, Ind., when Brady Quinn capped an 80-yard, three-play drive with a 45-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Samardzija with 27 seconds left.
"Last year's game and how it ended up will be on our mind for years and years to come," Dorrell said. "(But) we can't let that get in the way of how we need to progress as a football team."
UCLA quarterback Ben Olson has had an up-and-down season, with seven touchdown passes and five interceptions. Brandon Breazell has 22 catches for 396 yards and three TDs. Kahlil Bell is averaging 104 yards rushing, and has scored four touchdowns.
Notre Dame freshman Jimmy Clausen, a former high school standout in the Los Angeles suburb of Westlake Village, is slated to start again at quarterback. He threw his first collegiate touchdown pass before leaving the Purdue game with an injured hip, and is 57-for-94 with three interceptions.
Backup Evan Sharpley, who played well in the second half against the Boilermakers, also may play some. He has completed 32-of-51 this season, with two interceptions and two touchdowns.
|Avg Points Allowed||28.7||23.8|