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UCLA Football Season Preview

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Lately, being a UCLA football fan has required an extraordinary amount of patience and persistence. Every year, the Bruin faithful summon up the courage to believe that this year will be the breakthrough that we’ve been waiting for. And for most of the past ten years, we’ve been teased. Like a Michael Bay movie, we keep buying a ticket foolishly holding out hope that this time it will be good, even though deep down we know at the end of the day all we’re going to see are a bunch of things blowing up.

I L-O-V-E all things UCLA. I’ve been spending Saturdays at the Rose Bowl for nearly 20 years, lived my undergrad years in Westwood, use the term ‘Bruin’ in most of my online handles, and drive around in a blue car with a blue alumni plate on it. I hate anything to do with USC, even to the extent that I refused to even consider going to USC for grad school because I thought the mere name would sully my resume. I am as passionate a fan as you will find.

(Before all of you SC fans decide to flame me and say how phenomenally awesome your football program is, let me acknowledge that I have begrudging respect for the SC program based on its tradition and its recent run of success under Pete Carroll, so I will not take any digs at the hated Trojans. If however you decide to start talking smack, I will be forced to respond with endless reminders of ’13-9’, ‘First to 100’, and ’11 NCAA basketball titles’.)

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But while I may not be a totally rational fan, I am a reasonable fan. Which is why I enter this football season with great trepidation, despite the fact that expectations are very high.

Henry posted a few weeks ago how excited he was about the prospects of the Bruins’ season, with our twenty returning starters and stellar defense. I wish I could say I shared his enthusiasm, truly believing that the team will run the table and be sitting at 11-0 heading into Rivalry Week. On paper, this team has a ton of talent, worthy of its #14 ranking, a reasonable schedule, and a legitimate expectation to finish at least second in the Pac-10. The team has the most experience of anyone in the conference, with as many as eighteen senior starters. I really want to be optimistic. But let’s just say that through all of the years of following the program, and in particular after watching UCLA during the Dorrell era, I’m a little skeptical.

In my view, it’s a pretty simple gauge as to whether optimists or the skeptics will be vindicated. The season hangs on two simple words.

Ben. Olson.