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COLLEGE FOOTBALL / WEEK 9 | NOTES

At 7-0, Bruins Discover a Home-Field Advantage

November 01, 1998|BILL DWYRE and CHRIS DUFRESNE | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

OK, so maybe Texas A&M doesn't have the market cornered on this 12th man stuff.

How about those UCLA fans, all 64,820 in the Rose Bowl Saturday, helping pull the unbeaten Bruins through a 28-24 close call against the 1-7 Stanford Cardinal.

These are the same Bruin fans who, not too many years ago, sold their Rose Bowl tickets in droves and left the football team to deal with--unsuccessfully as it turned out--a UCLA home field overtaken by red-clad Wisconsin Badger faithful.

Could it be that laid-back Westwood has some embers burning for this 7-0 football team?

Coach Bob Toledo thinks so, and couldn't be happier, especially after Stanford appeared to be forced into taking three timeouts somewhat prematurely Saturday, apparently because it was having trouble with crowd noise.

"We finally have a home-field advantage," Toledo said. "And it's really neat. It's a great feeling to see those towels waving and people actually helping. Our fans were responsible for Stanford having to call those three timeouts. That's a home-field advantage."

Stanford wasn't quite as quick to agree that the crowd had bullied it into using up its timeouts before it wanted to, but quarterback Todd Husak acknowledged that it would have helped on the last drive.

"Wished I'd had one after I got sacked on the last play," he said.

Stanford Coach Ty Willingham said that his team's early timeouts were more prompted by problems with getting plays in on time, and Husak said it was more a combination of "personnel screwups, not getting the plays in in time and me not being ready for some of the calls, which is bad because I am, after all, a junior and should be more prepared for anything."

Stanford wide receiver Troy Walters had a different view.

"That crowd was loud," he said. "It caused lots of trouble for us, made us take those timeouts."

*

The Stanford Tree was back at the Rose Bowl, but only as a fill-in.

The Tree is Stanford's mascot. It is also the subject of much mischief, most of it at the hands of Cal fans. It was stolen (the costume, not the person inside it) recently, but in a press release--yes, at Stanford they do press releases on trees--it was announced that the Tree had been returned to the Cal police.

The press release actually said the following: "The Tree will return to action Saturday, Nov. 7, when the Cardinal hosts USC at Stanford Stadium, on Beanie Tree Giveaway Day."

Saturday, the Stanford Tree was in the Rose Bowl, but it was last year's costume, so that didn't count for the big return. The Trojans get that. Lucky them.

*

Stanford nearly posted its biggest victory against a top-10 opponent since the Cardinal's 33-16 win over No. 1 Notre Dame in 1992.

Stanford is 3-9 against top-10 opponents since 1991. Besides Notre Dame, the Cardinal defeated No. 7 Colorado in 1993 and No. 6 California in the 1991 Big Game.

*

UCLA is off to its best start since 1988, when the Bruins won their first seven games and were ranked No. 1 . . . With 254 passing yards, Cade McNown ranks fourth in Pac-10 history with 9,099. . . . With 419 passing yards, Stanford quarterback Todd Husak has thrown for more than 400 yards in a game twice this season. He had 450 yards in a loss against Oregon State two weeks ago.

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