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October 20, 2000|BILL SHAIKIN

No. 19 Oregon State (5-1, 2-1) at No. 23 UCLA (4-2, 1-2)

* Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Rose Bowl, Fox Sports West 2.

* Story line: This is not theater of the absurd: As UCLA plays Oregon State, one team cannot afford a loss to stay in the thick of the Rose Bowl race, and that team is Oregon State. The Bruins excused themselves from the run for the roses with a triple-overtime loss at California last week.

* UCLA update: The Bruins have lost eight consecutive road games, and they play at No. 21 Arizona next week and at No. 9 Washington in three weeks. The UCLA players believe they must win to preserve hope of playing in a first-tier bowl.

* Oregon State update: The Beavers have scored 99 points in three conference games, and the Bruins cannot win simply by stopping the Pac-10's leading rusher, Ken Simonton. Although Simonton had 87 yards in 14 carries last week, both season lows, quarterback Jonathan Smith threw for 324 yards in a 38-6 victory over Stanford.

* Edge to Oregon State: The first team to get to 40 points. Oregon State lost by three at Washington in front of a crowd far more hostile than UCLA partisans have ever dreamed of being.

* Line: UCLA by 3.

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