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UCLA Attacks Different Kind of Three-Peat

November 12, 1994|JIM HODGES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

TEMPE, Ariz. — Three.

It's Arizona State's goal tonight against UCLA: a third consecutive victory over the Bruins.

It's also how many points UCLA has scored against the Sun Devils in the last two seasons.

A 20-0 Sun Devil victory in 1992 at the Rose Bowl broke a 245-game UCLA scoring streak.

"Eighteen years," said Bruin Coach Terry Donahue, wistfully regarding his portion of the 22-year run. "I'll never see that again."

A 9-3 Arizona State victory last season, also in Pasadena, made UCLA's road to the Rose Bowl game a bumpy one.

Three points in two years. But it will be surprising if it happens again tonight.

"I would think that both offenses, going into the game, would think that they can move the ball, think that they're going to generate yards and points," Donahue said. "As soon as you make that statement or have that feeling about a game, sure enough it goes the other way on you. But the reality of it is that both secondaries have given up yardage and pass completions."

Arizona State (3-6, 2-4 in the Pacific 10 Conference) has given up an average of 277.8 yards passing per game, easily last in the league. UCLA (3-6, 1-5) has given up an average of 193.2, but the Bruins have also given up 223 yards rushing per game. Arizona State has given up 141.4.

A shootout is indicated.

"I think . . . it's going to be a fun game," Arizona State Coach Bruce Snyder said. "Obviously, people will see J.J. Stokes, who is a great player now and is going to be in the future. I don't think Craig (Newsome) will be healthy enough to play against him, but that would be nice to see."

Many of Arizona State's problems have also involved numbers.

The NCAA lets schools award 85 football scholarships, but because of transfers and other factors in a rocky transition from Coach Larry Marmie to Snyder, the Sun Devils have 75.

Of that, seven are injured and out for the season and three more--including top-flight cornerback Newsome--are out for the game.

Of the remaining 65, 15 are freshmen who are being red-shirted and eight have walked on to a scholarship, including kicker Jon Baker.

That leaves 42 recruited scholarship players, not even a two-deep chart.

"UCLA is the road team and they will have more players than we do," Snyder said.

The teams have similar results, both having started the season with two victories, and both have had injury problems. The difference is that Arizona State's are mounting. UCLA is getting stronger, having benefited from a week off after beating Stanford, 31-30, to end a six-game losing streak.

For one thing, Stokes is 100%, showing that in a Wednesday practice when he caught a quick, short Wayne Cook pass one-handed at the goal line, then dunked the ball over the crossbar of the goal posts, a la Alvin Harper of the Dallas Cowboys.

His return gives Cook two main targets: Stokes and Kevin Jordan, who has 63 receptions for 1,015 yards.

"It allows me to read defenses like I was trained to do," said Cook, who has zeroed in on Jordan all season.

Both teams have this game to bridge the gap between the season and closing games against traditional rivals. UCLA plays USC next week in Pasadena. Arizona State plays Arizona on Nov. 25 at Tucson.

"We'd much rather go into the USC game with wins over Stanford and Arizona State than with a 3-7 record and coming off a loss," Donahue said.

Said Arizona State quarterback Jake Plummer: "This gives us a chance to finish on a high note, with a win over a UCLA team that is playing better, and then go down to play our archrival."

A high note, and maybe a fun note.

"I think it's going to be a heck of a game because I think we are evenly matched," said Snyder. "But I've learned a long time ago not to say it's going to be a defensive struggle or an offensive shootout, because it tends to be just the opposite."

Maybe a three-point game?

Now that would be an upset.

UCLA BRUINS

TONIGHT'S GAME

* Opponent: Arizona State.

* Site: Sun Devil Stadium.

* Time: 7.

* Records: UCLA 3-6, 1-5; Arizona State 3-6, 2-4.

* Radio: XTRA (690).

* TV: ESPN.

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