The problem this week for Arizona Coach Dick Tomey has been to regroup his team. The crushing end to the Wildcats' winning streak by UCLA was a staggering blow, but they could still make it to the Rose Bowl for the first time.
Until the one-sided loss to the Bruins, the Wildcats were in charge of their own destiny. Now they need to win their last three games and have UCLA lose or tie one of its last three.
It isn't an easy schedule for either team. The Bruins are at Washington State Saturday, play host to improving Arizona State the next week and finish against USC at the Coliseum. The Wildcats entertain tough Oregon Saturday and are at California next week. After a bye, they end the season at Arizona State on Nov. 26.
"A good team bounces back from a poor performance," Tomey said. "We will find out if we're a good team this week. I won't know until Saturday how (the players) will react to the defeat.
"UCLA is a very good team and played very well. But, in truth, the way we played Saturday night, we could not have beaten many teams."
Oregon, with an outstanding passer in Danny O'Neil, will not be an easy team to bounce back against.
"But we aren't even thinking about any next three games," Tomey said. "As far as we are concerned, this is the only game. Oregon is an outstanding team. I don't know if we can beat the Ducks, but we certainly aren't thinking about anything else.
"In a conference blessed with a bunch of outstanding quarterbacks, Danny O'Neil is one of them. He figures to give us nothing but trouble.
"We haven't played them for a couple of years, so we haven't faced O'Neil. I hope we'll be ready for him."
O'Neil, who threw six interceptions in a loss at Washington the week before, completed 20 of 28 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions, in a 46-23 victory over Washington State last weekend.
"Danny made some poor decisions against Washington," Coach Rich Brooks said. "But he bounced right back and was terrific against the Cougars.
"For selfish reasons, I wish Arizona had won last week. They will be fired up for us.
"I feel we have a chance to beat them if we avoid turnovers. In losses to USC and Washington, we had 13 turnovers. We can't do that against Arizona and win."
O'Neil, a 6-foot-2 junior from Newport Beach, is having a second consecutive outstanding season. Last season, O'Neil passed for 1,925 yards, seventh in the conference. With three games left, he has passed for 2,398 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Only Steve Stenstrom of Stanford will prevent O'Neil from setting a season conference record for passing yardage. O'Neil is on a pace to break John Elway's record of 3,242 yards. But Stenstrom is more than 200 yards ahead of O'Neil.
O'Neil's passing is only part of the potent Oregon offense. Sean Burwell, a senior tailback from Canoga Park, is averaging 56 yards rushing.
The Arizona defense, which didn't appear to be ready for UCLA, had better be prepared for the Ducks, who have scored 71 points in the first quarter while holding the opposition to two touchdowns.
It is too late for Arizona State to make a run for the Rose Bowl, but Bruce Snyder's improving Sun Devils will have a say in which team represents the conference.
The Sun Devils, who knocked off Stanford and Washington in their last two games, face both front-runners, UCLA and Arizona. Last year, the Sun Devils beat them both, knocking the Wildcats out of the Rose Bowl race.
Before meeting the two leaders, the Sun Devils will play host to slumping California Saturday night. The Bears have lost three in a row since their amazing comeback against Oregon.
Snyder, who will be seeking his second victory in a row over the team he coached before leaving for Arizona State, at last has everything going well.
Freshman quarterback Jake Plummer, who has played extremely well in three starts in place of the injured Grady Benton, running back Mario Bates and a tough defense have sparked the Sun Devils.
"Jake is a talented youngster with a great arm and vision," Snyder said. "He can pick out a secondary receiver and he's very cool."
Bates, who had a sensational start last year before he was injured, is coming on strong. He has run for 111, 127 and 163 yards in the last three games and has moved into second place in rushing in the conference.
Obviously, having no place to go after the season has had something to do with the Washington Huskies' inconsistent play.
After vowing to win them all for former coach Don James, the Huskies have posted a 5-3 record.
Battered around by both UCLA and Arizona State, they are at Oregon State on Saturday, and the Beavers lead the nation in rushing with a 308.8-yard average.
The Huskies, who have beaten the Beavers seven consecutive times, clinched their third consecutive Pac-10 title a year ago by routing the Beavers, 45-16. Napoleon Kaufman, who ran for 146 yards in a dozen carries, is still the key to the offense. He is averaging 114.6 yards a game.
Dick Tomey's brief rundown of the Pac-10: "Arizona State is coming back. USC is coming back. Oregon is coming back. There's still nine teams in the league that can have a winning record. All you can worry about is the game ahead. When the smoke clears, we'll have a winner." . . . Second-best winning streak to UCLA's six is Arizona State's two.
California wide receiver Mike Caldwell is not the reason for the Bears' slump. He has caught scoring passes in five consecutive games. . . . Nine Oregon State running backs have carried the ball at least 25 times this season. Only J.J. Young, with 739 yards in 97 carries, is in the league's top 10.
Washington needs one more victory for its 17th consecutive winning season. Only Nebraska, with 31, and Oklahoma, with 27, have longer streaks. No other Pac-10 team has more than two in a row.