School may not be in session at UCLA, but linebacker Tony White and fullback Ed Ieremia-Stansbury will provide their teammates with lessons in geography and demography during the Bruins' trip to the Sun Bowl.
White and Ieremia-Stansbury grew up in El Paso, home of the Sun Bowl. Among the questions each has heard from teammates since the Sun Bowl picked the Bruins: Can I drive to Houston? How many high schools are there in town, two or three? Are there more people or animals there?
"Not too many people know how big a city it is," White said. "We want to show them it's more than desert and farms and cows."
Said Ieremia-Stansbury: "We'll do our best to enlighten them."
For the record: You could drive to Houston, but you would probably miss the game: Houston is about 750 miles away, adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico. El Paso is at the tip of west Texas, at the southern end of the Rocky Mountains. El Paso is the 17th largest city in the United States, with a population of 600,000, and the regional population, including that of neighboring Juarez, Mexico, is 1.9 million.
The Dec. 29 game against Wisconsin will be particularly meaningful for White, a senior who will play his final college game in his hometown.
"Since we're not playing for a national championship and we're not playing in the Rose Bowl, I couldn't ask for a better way to go out than in front of my friends and family," White said.
The Bruins are a little sensitive to the perception that they cannot beat Wisconsin. UCLA lost to the Badgers in the Rose Bowl in 1994, under Terry Donahue, and in 1999, under Bob Toledo. UCLA lost, 38-31, in 1999, with Wisconsin scoring the clinching touchdown on an interception return by Jamar Fletcher.
So, when someone in an http://ESPN.com chat session Wednesday asked Toledo, "Aren't you sick of losing to Wisconsin?" the coach shot back: "Is this the Wisconsin mascot? I have lost to them one time."