FACTS & STATS: Site: Rose Bowl (91,500) -- Los Angeles, California. Television:FSN-PT. Home Record: Washington State 1-1, UCLA 1-1. Away Record: Washington State 0-2, UCLA 1-1. Neutral Record: Washington State 0-0, UCLA 0-0. Conference Record: Washington State 0-1, UCLA 0-1. Series Record: UCLA leads, 37-18-1.
GAME NOTES: The suddenly resurgent UCLA Bruins return home this weekend to entertain the Washington State Cougars in Pac-10 play at the Rose Bowl.
No team has had a bigger turnaround in the last two weeks than the Bruins, who have knocked off a pair of Top 25 opponents following an 0-2 start to the season. After upending then No.23 Houston on September 18th, UCLA pulled off a stunning upset with a convincing 34-12 victory at then No.7 Texas this past weekend. The Bruins' resiliency has been terrific and the team now has a great chance to move over .500 on the campaign.
The Cougars meanwhile, opened their Pac-10 slate over the weekend and were thrashed 50-16 by 18th-ranked USC. The loss was nothing new for WSU, which is now 1-18 in Pac-10 action under head coach Paul Wulff. Overall, WSU is just 1-3 on the campaign and it has been outscored by an average of 50-17 in the three setbacks.
As far as the all-time series is concerned, UCLA holds a 37-18-1 advantage over WSU and that includes a 43-7 triumph in last season's meeting.
The Cougars hung tough with USC in the first half, but managed just three points after the intermission of a 50-16 setback last weekend. An inability to run the ball once again hurt the offense, as WSU managed just 67 yards on 26 carries. The team is now averaging a meager 89.2 ypg on the ground and that simply isn't good enough to get the job done. QB Jeff Tuel though, has done well and he has passed for 922 yards with six TDs against four INTs. He did however throw three of those picks last weekend against USC, finishing with 222 yards and a score on 24-of-37 pass attempts. Jared Karstetter, now fully healthy, hauled in eight balls for 87 yards and two TDs in the loss, giving him four scores of the year. He, however, ranks second in catches and receiving yards to Marquess Wilson, who has 20 receptions and 340 yards for the season.
WSU kept things close with USC for a little bit thanks to three turnovers forced by the defense. Aside from those takeaways, the Cougars were simply horrific on defense, as they failed to force a single punt. The unit allowed a whopping 613 total yards, including 285 on the ground. Poor defense has plagued WSU all season long, as the Cougars are surrendering 209.8 ypg on the ground and another 286.2 ypg through the air. Tyree Toomer heads the defense with 26 stops for the campaign and that includes an eight-tackle effort last weekend.
The Bruins have adjusted to their new Pistol offense and scored 65 points in their last two games after being shutout by Stanford. The biggest improvement for UCLA has been its ground attack, which is averaging a healthy 218.8 ypg. Facing the No.2 run defense last weekend. the Bruins showed their stuff by gaining 264 yards and three TDs on the ground in an upset of Texas. Johnathan Franklin led the charge with 118 yards on 19 carries, while Derrick Coleman returned from injury to rush for 94 yards and a score on 16 carries. On the season, Franklin tops the roster with 409 yards and four TDs and he is averaging an hardy 5.9 yards per carry. QB Kevin Prince adds 142 yards and three scores to the ground attack and he posted 50 yards and a TD versus Texas last weekend. Prince hasn't done much passing the ball, completing just 46.0 percent of his tosses with two TDs, so his mobility has been a real asset.
Despite surrendering 439 total yards, UCLA was able to keep Texas from making the big plays, while also recording five takeaways. The defense forced and recovered four fumbles and limited Texas to just 85 yards on the ground. It was a nice accomplishment for the Bruins, who are still allowing 179.2 rushing ypg. Akeem Ayers had himself quite a game versus Texas, as he had six stops to go with an INT and a sack. He currently sits third on the team with 29 tackles, while ranking first with 5.5 TFLs, two sacks and a pair of INTs for the season.
The Bruins are on the rise and they should be able to run past a WSU club that is in line for another long season.