COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Bruins’ history means Notre Dame has a shot. By Brian Dohn STAFF WRITER Nearly 83 years have passed since Notre Dame’s four horseman traveled 2,000 miles to play Stanford in the granddaddy of all bowl games, but tonight, when the Irish return to the Rose Bowl, they will try to pull the mother of all upsets against UCLA. And UCLA’s five seasons under Coach Karl Dorrell suggest it is possible. After the Bruins, as 16-point favorites, were ambushed by 38 points last month at Utah, and with a string of defeats as a heavy favorite pasted on Dorrell’s resume, losing to the Irish (0-5) doesn’t seem as outlandish as the storied Notre Dame program opening the season with five losses. “(Notre Dame) is a lot better than their record,” UCLA quarterback Ben Olson said. “They’re an athletic team. They’re not a bad team in any sense. We have to go out there and respect them. We’ve been in situations before where the team has been a little bit down and we made them look like superstars. We need to make sure that doesn’t happen.” UCLA (4-1) is a 201/2-point favorite, and excels at home, where it has won 14 of its last 15 games. However, a UCLA-induced condition is prevalent whenever the Bruins are big favorites. Dorrell’s record is 33-22, but half of those losses came when UCLA was favored, and the 44-6 loss at Utah is not an isolated incident. The Bruins were 14-point favorites and lost at home to Washington State in 2004, and as a 12-point favorite lost to Wyoming in the Las Vegas Bowl to close that season. There is also the debacle in the desert, when the seventh-ranked and 8-0 Bruins, as nine-point favorites, were beaten by 38 points at Arizona in 2005. The common theme in many of those losses was it followed a strong effort, and the Bruins are coming off a 40-14 win at Oregon State. Now, the Irish enter today as, statistically, one of the worst teams in the nation. “We can’t take them lightly, because if we do, we can have another Utah relapse,” said UCLA defensive end Bruce Davis, who doesn’t anticipate another lackluster performance. “When we’re in the huddle, and I’m looking at the other 10 guys in the huddle, it’s like they want it. It’s like these guys are hungry and they haven’t eaten in a week. “I don’t know if you watch Discovery Channel during shark week, but it’s like we’ve got great whites out there. These guys are ready for some blood.” And the Irish offense is hemorrhaging. Notre Dame, which has scored 46 points this season, is 119th and last in the nation in rushing offense (30.4 yards per game) and sacks allowed (5.8 per game). The Irish are 118th in total offense (194.8 ypg) and scoring (9.2 ppg), and 106 in passing offense (164.4 ypg). “Right now we’re 0-5, but our outlook on things are still very positive,” Notre Dame running back Travis Thomas said. “Everyone is still working hard and everyone still believes we can win. We’re still going out there with the mind-set and the belief that we can win, and we’re going to win when we step on the field.” UCLA players said all week motivation came in many forms, including the memories of the Utah game, and last year’s collapse at Notre Dame Stadium. After throttling Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn for 59 minutes, all of UCLA’s good vibes were sliced apart in 35 seconds. That’s how long it took the Irish to go 80 yards, and to take a 20-17 lead with 27 seconds left as a flailing UCLA secondary allowed Jeff Samardzija to catch and run for a 45-yard touchdown. “I’m still bitter about that,” said UCLA left guard Shannon Tevaga, who is returning after missing two games with a knee injury. “Not until we beat them, and beat them badly (will Tevaga get over the loss). I wanted to play in this game.” This will mark Notre Dame’s second game at the now-world famous stadium, but it comes with a vastly different goal. When Notre Dame played Jan. 1, 1925, its 27-10 defeat of Stanford gave the school its first national championship. When the Irish meet the Bruins today, the only thing on Notre Dame’s mind is ending the worst start in the school’s history. But the question may not be whether the Irish are ready to finally win, but whether UCLA has finally learned how not to lose. [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!