Price sees legend in Foster; Toledo a Coug fan

PULLMAN -- If Mike Price sees Eric Dickerson in DeShaun Foster, then Onterrio Smith must surely conjure images of Jim Brown or Walter Payton.

But no matter how you mix and match these past and budding legends, Price is going to be seeing red Saturday night if his defense lets UCLA's Foster -- a leading Heisman contender -- do what they let Oregon's No. 2 back do to them a week ago.

The stakes in this one are huge. Both teams are 7-1 and locked in a five-way tie for first in the Pac-10. Both also are coming off their only loss. While Oregon dropped the Cougars, Stanford was putting a 38-28 number on the Bruins.

The Card also held Foster to what, for him, was a paltry 77-yard rushing day.

"I think that if you had to build a running back, DeShaun Foster would be the model you'd use," Price said. "I think he's the best running back in the country, he reminds me of Eric Dickerson."

After last week's debacle against Oregon, in which the Ducks scorched the Cougs for 446 yards on the ground, Price is confident his stop corps will step up to the task this Saturday for their regionally televised Dad's Weekend showdown with UCLA. Kickoff is at 3:30 pm.

"I think UCLA is a little more one-dimensional than Oregon was last week. Oregon has a lot better passing game, they can run and pass and have play actions and screens off all their running plays. But UCLA is geared more heavily toward the run behind Foster. I certainly don't expect them to rush for 400 yards this week."

Then again, no one expected the pass-happy Ducks to ground it out against a WSU defensive squad that entered the game tops in the conference in run defense, allowing an average of 93 yards per game. Courtesy of Smith & Co., the Cougs now stand sixth in the Pac-10, with an average of 137 ground yards surrendered per game.

The key to the UCLA game will be whether the Cougar defensive front can regroup and get under the pads of the Bruin hosses and get to Foster.

"They (WSU) are a very good team," said Bruin coach Bob Toledo. "They have a lot of excellent athletes. Defensively, I know Mike (Price) said it's the best linebacker and secondary crew that he's coached. So they have athleticism.

"I personally predicted success (for WSU). The reason being is because they had the most players coming back and (a) proven quarterback," Toldeo added. " The teams with the most quality experience, with a good quarterback that's got experience has a great chance to win, and everyone was counting (them) out except me."

On paper at least, the Cougs appear to have the upper hand. They're playing at home in the final Martin Stadium appearance for their seniors, and the Bruins look to be without the services of starting quarterback Cory Paus and star wide out Brian Poli-Dixon, among others. To keep the Cougars off guard, though, Bruin head coach Bob Toldeo is staying mum on who will start: Paus (thumb), Scott McEwan (ankle) or Ryan McCann.

PRICE ON THE PAC: "It's awesome, the conference is really competitive. I don't know what any of us have a chance at the BCS now, but we need to win our conference championship and we're going to shoot for the Fiesta (bowl). I think it's become a single elimination tournament."


* WSU boasts leads the Pac-10 in total offense (480.13 yard per game), passing offense (325.5 yard per game) and scoring offense (40.63 points per). Jason Gesser is the league's top-rated QB with a 153.02 pass efficiency rating.

* UCLA and WSU haven't played since 1998, but have split their last four encounters. Each of those victories was by the home team.

* As of Oct. 22, the NCAA rates WSU's four-game slate to close the year (Oregon, UCLA, ASU, UW) as the toughest in the nation.

* WSU is 1-1 versus ranked teams this year, defeating Stanford (No. 22) and losing to Oregon last week (No. 13). The Bruins are 4-1 against ranked teams, beating Alabama (No. 25), Ohio State (No. 21), Oregon State (No. 19) and Washington (No.10) and losing to Stanford last week (No. 20).

* The Cougs are No. 11 in the nation in turnover margin (+1.13).

* Nakoa McElrath ranks 13th nationally in receiving yards (109.25 yards game) and is tied for 16th nationally in receptions (6.75 catches per game).

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