STANFORD — Beware the 0-3 team with the gimpy running back.
The warning has been sounded all week at UCLA as the Bruins braced for today's game against Stanford and the possibility of another Cardinal ambush.
Every indication is that UCLA has this game wrapped up. The Bruins have the better record, 3-1 to 0-3. They have better statistics, leading the Pacific 10 in scoring and in total defense. They have bigger-name players. Tailback Gaston Green leads the Pacific 10 with 113.9 yards a game, and Stanford's Brad Muster is coming back from an injury; Troy Aikman leads the nation in passing efficiency, and Stanford's Greg Ennis, while averaging 270 yards a game in total offense, does not rank with Stanford quarterbacks of the past.
Therein lies the danger.
UCLA Coach Terry Donahue said: "They always get us in the same trap, and we're not smart enough to figure it out. Our players look at the record and the stats and think Stanford is not a formidable opponent until after they've beaten our brains out."
So Donahue is trying to convince anyone who will listen that Stanford, with a few breaks, could just as easily be 3-0.
Muster, for one, agrees.
The senior running back is not trying to make a case for Stanford as world-beaters, but he has seen all three games--two of them from the sidelines--and said the Cardinal could have shown better and turned any one of them around. There were no routs in the defeats by Washington, Colorado and San Jose State.
Muster, himself, has not been up to par. Touted as one of the premier backs in the country going into this season, he injured an ankle early in training camp and tried to come back too soon.
He hurt it again early in the first game and was sidelined until last week, when he made his comeback against San Jose State.
"It was bad judgment on my part," Muster said. "I do think I tried to come back too soon, but I thought I could do it. I'm still not 100%. I don't know how to put a percentage on it, but it's still bothering me."
Which may suggest that he would not be able to do to the Bruins what he did in last year's 28-23 Stanford victory. Last season, Muster rushed for 183 yards and 2 touchdowns in 38 carries against UCLA.
Last week, against San Jose State, he scored both of Stanford's touchdowns and caught 6 passes for 50 yards, but in 27 carries he gained just 85 yards.
Bruin Notes UCLA is 3-1 overall, 1-0 in the Pac-10 after beating Arizona, 34-24, in its conference opener last Saturday. UCLA's only loss was at Nebraska. Stanford is 0-3 overall, 0-1 in the Pac-10 after losing to Washington, 31-21; Colorado, 31-17, and San Jose State, 24-17. . . . Jack Elway is in his fourth season as Stanford's coach after five years at San Jose State and three at Cal State Northridge. He is 2-1 against the Bruins. . . . UCLA leads the series, 30-24-3. But it's been strange lately in that the visiting team has won the last four games. The home team hasn't won since 1982, when UCLA did it at the Rose Bowl, 38-35.
UCLA has scored in 185 straight games since being shut out, 38-0, at Michigan in 1971. That's the longest current streak in the nation. If the Bruins score today, they will tie the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. record of 186 set by USC from 1967 to 1983. The Bruins have not been shut out in a conference game since 1968, when they lost, 6-0, at Seattle. . . . UCLA tailback Eric Ball did not make the trip because of the slight shoulder separation he suffered against Arizona. Safety James Washington also missed it. He is recovering from a knee injury.