Nov. 2, 2001
Two Pac-10 teams that had their perfect seasons ruined last week square off Saturday in hopes of keeping their conference title hopes alive as UCLA takes on Washington State.
Considering five Pac-10 teams currently have only one conference loss, it seems unlikely that a squad finishing with two can win the league.
Both the ninth-ranked Bruins (6-1, 3-1) and No. 16 Cougars (7-1, 4-1) lost for the first time this season this past Saturday, seriously damaging their chances for a national title.
"We've got two wounded animals - a Bruin and a wounded Cougar," UCLA coach Bob Toledo said.
UCLA fell five spots in the AP Top 25 and dropped six places to ninth in the Bowl Championship Series standings following its 38-28 loss to Stanford.
Washington State's potent offense was held below 34 points for the first time all season in a 24-17 loss to Oregon.
"We're going to fight through this depression that everybody has a little bit of right now," Cougars coach Mike Price said. "...we will be fired up and ready to go."
The Washington State defense, which gave up 285 rushing yards to Oregon's Onterrio Smith and 446 on the ground overall, faces another tough test as DeShaun Foster visits Pullman.
The Bruins' star tailback entered last weekend as the nation's leading rusher, but was held to 77 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.
"We can still win the Pac-10 championship," Foster said. "There are a lot of teams with one loss, so hopefully we can just keep rolling."
In trying to regain their momentum, the Bruins likely will be without starting quarterback Cory Paus. The fourth-year junior is doubtful for this game due to a sprained thumb that's bothered him all season.
Paus hit his thumb on a helmet or shoulder pad late in the first half last week and was replaced by Scott McEwan, who engineered three second-half touchdown drives as UCLA's comeback attempt fell short. The fifth-year senior would be making his first career start.
The Cougars, meanwhile, amassed 394 yards of offense last week, but that was significantly less than their 492-yard season average.
"They weren't creating. They were just off beat," Price said. "We just didn't have any rhythm."
The lone bright spot was the return of Dave Minnich, the team's leading rusher before undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery Oct. 10. He had 17 carries for 91 yards and a touchdown.
UCLA has lost its last two trips to Pullman, but owns a 34-12-1 advantage in the all-time series.