The Dirty Dozen of Cougs vs. Bruins

PULLMAN -- Not everyone is meant to be a Cougar fan. You've got to be tough. Patient. Stubborn. Maybe a little bit nuts. The rewards are huge when The Little School That Could … does. Win, that is. Win when it seems like all your opponents have more money, more seats, more fans, more hope. The 2007 football season has so far tested the loyalty of even the most diehard of Cougar fans.

A 2-5 record is bad enough, but 0-4 in the Pac-10 is even worse. Throw in the margins of defeat -- 21 or more points on four occasions -- and it's enough to make even the toughest Cougs cry in their beer.

NUMBERS & OPINION

This week, the practice field in Pullman didn't offer encourgement. Both of the "hard" practices were sloppy. The angry voices of coaches seemed louder and more frequent. Senior quarterback and co-captain Alex Brink wasn't spared, even being sent to the sidelines in the final minutes of one practice.

Head coach Bill Doba, known for his upbeat manner, was downright furious with a reporter who jotted down notes when one player lay motionless after apparently suffering a serious injury. Fortunately for the player -- and perhaps the media -- it turned out that he only had the wind knocked out of him. Now the lad knows what Cougar fans felt like after the Oregon game.

And the Arizona game.

And the USC game.

The pressure to turn things around may be taking a toll on Doba, who sounded subdued Tuesday during the weekly Pac-10 football coaches teleconference. Foruntuately, he's got the home crowd in his corner this weekend against a school that the Cougs have mostly owned in this decade.

Kickoff between the Cougs and Bruins is 3:30 pm, with live regional TV coverage on FSN. Whether you're in the stands, in front of the tube or listening on the radio, here are a dozen notable buggets to frame it all ...

1. View From Pullman:
At least we're keeping up with the Huskies.

2. View from L.A.:
Hazy, and not just because of the wildfires. UCLA's speedy, talented defense is beat up, and quarterback Patrick Cowan's battered right knee makes him about as mobile as Tony Siragusa.

3. Scouting Report:
In the unlikely event that WSU's nonexistent ground game suddenly comes to life against the nation's eighth-ranked run defense, that would certainly ease the pressure on Brink. He's thrown interceptions in a career-high six straight games. Defensively, expect the Cougars to blitz Cowan, but the Bruins tend to keep defenses honest with screen passes.

4. Betcha Didn't Know:
UCLA has won 16 straight when scoring 30 or more points. The Cougars have yielded 35 or more points in six of their last seven conference games.

5. The Rankings:
FOXSports.com ranks UCLA 30th and WSU 60th among 119 teams in the NCAA Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A). UCLA came in 26th in The Associated Press Top 25 media poll this week.

6. Cougar Trivia Department:
Former starting running back DeMaundray Woolridge, who scored two touchdowns against UCLA last year, is working in Pullman after flunking out of WSU. He had considered transferring to NAIA power Langston (Okla.).

7. Bruin Trivia Department:
Twin brothers Korey and Kyle Bosworth, key contributors on defense, are nephews of infamous Seattle Seahawks flameout Brian Bosworth.

8. Alumni Hall:
Few schools can match UCLA's alumni list. Consider this cast of stars: Jackie Robinson (baseball), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (basketball), Arthur Ashe Jr. (tennis), Rob Reiner (actor-director), Heather Locklear (actress), Jackie Joyner-Kersee (track and field), Troy Aikman (football), Francis Ford Coppola (producer-director), etc.

9. Cougar Talk:
Bob Johnson, the high school coach of Jed Collins, on the senior tight end: "He's very confident. It almost would come off as arrogance to some people, but it's not arrogance. He's very good socially. I never had a problem with Jed. He's a very good friend. He's just a fun guy to be around."

10. Bruin Talk:
Linebacker Reggie Carter, explaining to the Los Angeles Daily News why he plays so hard: "I plan on trying to play for a long time. I plan on taking care of my mother, so you have to look at it as the other team is trying to stop me from taking care of my mom."

11. Opinion Of The Week:
If the Cougars get buried early, the catcalls from the stands will be even more plentiful than the points on UCLA's side of the scoreboard.

12. And Your Final Score Is:
UCLA 41, Washington State 24.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • The Cougar basketball team's 2 pm intrasquad scrimmage Saturday will be played in Bohler Gym, not Beasley as originally planned.

  • In the Field House before the game, Jason Gesser will be autographing copies of film producer Jeff McQuarrie's third installment of this three-part feature film about the colorful history of Cougar football, "Legends of the Palouse."

  • If there were any doubts about the length of the indefinite suspension of senior punter Darryl Blunt for conduct detrimental, it was likely answered two weeks ago at Oregon. Blunt's replacement, Reid Forrest, who had being wearing No. 32 this season, was suited up in No. 8 -- the number Blunt had been wearing the last two years.


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