Ready or not, here come the Bruins

THE WAY KARL DORRELL is talking, you'd think he was bringing his UCLA Bruins to Pullman this weekend to face Jason Gesser & Co. Visiting with reporters on Monday, the Bruin head man sprinkled his remarks about the Cougars with five words you'd be hard-pressed to hear uttered by anyone who has actually witnessed WSU's shocking pratfall of the last two weeks.

But there was Dorrell, wearing the confidence of a coach who is 5-0 after knocking off favored Cal in dramatic fashion Saturday, chatting up the Cougs in reverent terms.

Cougars vs. Bruins
AT A GLANCE
KICKOFF:
3:30 p.m. Pacific Time

WHERE:
Martin Stadium

TELEVISION:
Live on Fox Sports Northwest

RADIO:
The Cougar Sports Radio Network covers much of the West. Click here for listings.

THE LINE:
Bruins by 6 1/2

THE SERIES:
UCLA leads 34-16-1, but the Cougars have won the last four, Last year in Pasadena WSU took a 31-29 decision and the year before in Pullman they won 31-13.

CF.C PREDICTION:
Bruins 41, Cougars 34


Very good. Explosive. Tremendous. Dangerous.

Perhaps stealing a page from Walt Harris' book of pre-game gushing, the third-year Bruin coach used all those adjectives and maybe even more. Balancing his words with the results of WSU's last two Saturdays, you've got to think Coach K has a misguided notion of lulling the Cougars into an even deeper sense of complacency than they've shown on the field the last two weeks.

Very good?

At what --- handing wins to inferior competition?

Explosive?

More like implosive.

Tremendous?

Definitely, if you mean heartache for the crimson faithful who were promised a return to the post-season.

Dangerous?

I think dangerously underachieving would be the best use of the word or any derivative.

Saturday's 3:30 pm game, which many pre-season pundits marked as one of the most crucial in the Pac-10 season, now has the luster of eggshell paint --- not totally flat, but far from glossy. Instead of a clash of titans, we have one titan and one also-ran hoping to keep whisper-thin bowl hopes alive.

Nonetheless, oddsmakers --- knowing that UCLA struggles mightily on the Palouse --- have only installed the Bruins as 6 ½-point favorites. Add in a fully healthy Jason Hill and, who knows, the spread could be 4 ½ by game time.

Indeed, the Bruins haven't tasted victory on the Palouse in 12 years. In fact, they haven't beaten WSU anywhere since 1998. A year ago, in Los Angeles, the underdog Cougars behind Jerome Harrison's 247 rushing yards pulled off a nailbiting 31-29 victory.

One telling part of Dorrell's commentary this week is that he reserves all his praise for the Cougar offense. The soft underbelly of the team, the defense, got nary a mention in his assessment of Ol' Wazzu. And for good reason --- they surrendered 410 yards to Oregon State and 475 to what was thought to be an anemic Stanford offense.

Dorrell appears to be on the same page as WSU head man Bill Doba. Asked Sunday about the Cougars' woes, Doba pointed to his defense as the primary concern. "We've got to get that thing shored up," he said.

And quick.

UCLA is averaging 43.2 points per game and quarterback Drew Olsen No. 2 in the conference in passing efficiency. In addition, running back Maurice Drew is an multiu-purpose threat who produced 279 total yards and four touchdowns in the Bruins' win over Cal last week.

UCLA's Dis no slouch either. The Bruins are No. 1 in the Pac-10 in pass defense and No. 1 in turnover margin.

NOTABLE NOTES:

No Cougar running back until Jerome Harrison has ever rushed for more than 100 yards in eight consecutive games. Harrison will go after his ninth straight game over 100 yards this week against UCLA: The previous record was held jointly at six games by Steve Broussard, Rueben Mayes and Kerry Porter.

Harrison is on pace to challenge the WSU single-season record set by Mayes in 1984 at 1,637 yards. He has rushed for 741 yards in five games this year, averaging 148.2 yards per outing. Should he maintain his current average, he would finish the season with 1,630 yards.

FSN has also picked up WSU's Oct. 22 game at California for live television. That game will begin at 7:15 p.m.

UCLA has a couple of notable names on its staff. The offensive coordinator is former Idaho head coach Tom Cable and the running backs coach is former Colorado star and NFL mainstay Eric Bieniemy.

EARLY LUNCH ON WEDNESDAY: WSU assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator Robin Pflugrad will be joining us in the CF.C Chat Room at 11:30 am PT tomorrow (Wednesday). He'll have 25 minutes to answer your questions, so don't be late logging in. Important Note: To access the Chat Room requires a subscription.

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