Irish, Bruins look to create some memorable magic
So far, the football series has been a dud.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- Notre Dame and UCLA have played some classic games -- on the basketball court.
The schools conjure memories of John Wooden and Digger Phelps, Bill Walton and Adrian Dantley and Notre Dame ending UCLA's NCAA-record win streak at 88 games in 1974.
Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis remembers watching that game as a high school senior in New Jersey.
"When Dwight Clay hits that jumper from the corner, I remember watching that happen and that's going to be your school, that's the one you're going to and saying, 'God, that's pretty wild,' " he said. "But there were some great basketball games with UCLA while I was here."
When it comes to football, though, the schools have met just twice in two forgettable games, both in South Bend. The first was played in 1963, when the teams combined for four victories, with the Irish winning 27-12. A year later, the Irish easily won 24-0 in Ara Parseghian's first season as coach.
Since then, all the two schools have had in common in football is they are big rivals of USC.
Despite that lack of history, though, today's game is important for both. The 10th-ranked Irish (5-1), coming off a bye week, are looking to get back into the national title hunt, while UCLA (4-2), which has three games remaining against teams ranked in the top 11, is looking to rebound from a disappointing 30-20 loss at No. 16 Oregon.
"I'm treating this game like a Pac 10 game. It's very important," UCLA coach Karl Dorrell said. "This is a great opportunity for UCLA to play well and to get ourselves in positions to do great things."
The Irish play the Bruins, the three service academies and North Carolina (1-6) in their next five games. They know that just winning those games isn't enough to move up as high as they want in the Bowl Championship Series standings.
"We want to win every game by as many points as we can," offensive tackle Ryan Harris said. "But preceding everything, we need to win our games."
UCLA comes into the game ranked ninth in total defense. Before the 30-20 loss to Oregon last week, the Bruins had held four straight opponents to 60 yards or less rushing and were ranked second nationally in run defense, allowing 50 yards a game. But the Bruins gave up 256 rushing yards to Oregon.
"We have some work to do," Dorrell said.
The Irish have had their troubles running at times this season, being held to 4 yards rushing against Michigan and 47 yards by Michigan State. The Irish have averaged 171 yards rushing the past two games and are looking to build on that. Weis said his top priority for the Irish this week is to play more physical.
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