What They're Saying: Post UCLA Edition

A REBORN RUNNING game, a stout defense that held UCLA scoreless for the final 58 minutes, and the Bruins ongoing lack of success with the Cougs were recurring themes in several recaps of WSU's 27-7 victory against the Westwood softies Saturday. With quips, quotes and takes on Dwight Tardy's big day, Wazzu's newfound glimmer of hope and more; from Seattle to Los Angeles, here's what they're saying.

So it wasn't Chaminade over Virginia, or Spinks outpointing Ali. It wasn't even Appalachian State burning down the Big House. In fact, when the score goes into the archives, it'll just be Washington State beating UCLA – again. And what's the shock in that? Six times in the last seven meetings now, so historically it's not an upset at all. The Bruins have been freaked out over the Cougs for a decade, or ever since Leon Bender called Skip Hicks soft for begging off packing the football with the game on the line. John Blanchette, Spokesman-Review

We could try to unload all sorts of attempts at trenchant analysis on you for what happened on a brisk, pretty autumn day here Saturday. But there might be nothing that describes it better than this: There's still a pulse in the Palouse. Bud Withers, Seattle Times

Encouragement can be a dubious power, in form and fury, and it was for the Washington State Cougars this week. It came from embattled coach Bill Doba, who after a blistering loss to Oregon two weeks ago, softly implored his players to reflect on what kind of season they wanted to have in their final five games of 2007.It came from a note taped on the players' locker room the day after that defeat, signed by a group of fans who said they still believed the Cougars' season could be special. It came the night before WSU's game against UCLA, from a former Cougar greats – running backs coach Steve Broussard – motivating the players to put forth their best and most spirited effort. Todd Milles, The (Tacoma) News Tribune

And afterward, UCLA's brave talk from a few days ago, of shooting for the Pac-10 title and a Rose Bowl berth, was supplanted by talk of regret, frustration and anger after another defeat to what was supposed to be a lesser team. Brian Dohn, Los Angeles Daily News

Running, passing, defending the pass, stuffing the run, special teams - the Cougars did it all. WSU escaped the Pac-10 basement by knocking off a UCLA squad that came into the game undefeated in league play and tied for first with Arizona State. Howie Stalwick, Daily Olympian

Andrew Roxas never had played center until he arrived at Washington State's practice in August as a true freshman. Saturday, he played it for the first time in a game — against storied UCLA no less, and he more than held his own. Craig Smith, Seattle Times

A fine time was had by all here Saturday, if you were a Cougar. The mascot started it by driving in on a motorcycle, almost like he knew the rest of the day would be easy riding. A senior quarterback named Alex Brink passed for 271 yards, picking apart a UCLA defense that surrendered 545 total yards, and you had to look close to make sure he wasn't Dan Marino. A running back named Dwight Tardy, never late to hit the hole, entered the game with 462 yards in seven games and got 214 more. UCLA made him into a reincarnation of Red Grange. Bill Dwyre, Los Angeles Times

Well, that was something they haven't seen around Washington State football in a while. A running game. A defense. A Pacific-10 Conference win. Nick Daschel, The Columbian

"A big deal has been that we can't run the ball, can't do this, can't do that," offensive line coach George Yarno said. "We felt we could run the ball going into the game, even though they are ranked eighth in the nation in rush defense because we thought they would try to cover our receivers." Vince Grippi, Spokesman-Review

For a night, the Cougars (3-5, 1-4) weren't the lonesome losers of the Pac-10. Their fans celebrated by storming the field and dancing as players sang the school's fight song. One girl jumped into the arms of offensive guard Dan Rowlands as he walked to the tunnel. Todd Milles, The (Tacoma) News Tribune

But we get references to two key players who got hurt, and of course that was a factor. But UCLA ought to be able to drive a van around the campus on a Friday afternoon, pick up 35 students who look fairly healthy and come up here and beat the Cougars. Which is a harder sell to a prospective player, the bright lights of Los Angeles or the vast nothingness that surrounds Pullman? Bill Dwyre, Los Angeles Times

Despite inexplicable losses to Utah and Notre Dame, UCLA came into Saturday's game off an upset of then-10th-ranked California last weekend; 4-0 and tied for first place in the Pac-10; and one win from bowl eligibility. All that went out the window, however, against the Cougars. Brandon Scheller, Seattle Times

When asked last week about how they would avoid a letdown against Washington State, the UCLA Bruins said time and time again that they understood it was a dangerous game. Coming off a big win against Cal, the Bruins understood they were facing a team that has had their number, in a hostile environment. Kevin Pearson, The (Riverside) Press-Enterprise

Success in college football is frequently an impostor, especially for a 3-5 team. No matter. At midfield at game's end, then: a big crimson catharsis. Bud Withers, Seattle Times

And regardless of what the in-house skeptics might think, the Cougs now deserve some other small consideration: the right to hope. John Blanchette, Spokesman-Review

For a change, running back Dwight Tardy was the one front and center, greeting the press corps, answering questions about what made the Washington State Cougars' offense so effective. He hunched over the postgame podium, barely able to stand. His eyes, peering from beneath a Florida Marlins baseball cap, indicated he was worn out. Thirty-seven carries on a chilly night at Martin Stadium, against one of the staunchest rushing defenses in the country – UCLA – can do that to a man. Todd Milles, The (Tacoma) News Tibune

Yes, the Cougars played hard and played well. And yes, this is like going to the moon to play a game -- did those loud and inebriated fans in their deer-hunting clothes really come to watch a football game? Or when they chanted at the end of the game to the Bruins: "We own you! We own you!" did they mean the entire team or just their hides? Bill Dwyre, Los Angeles Times

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