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SPORTS WEEKEND | WEEK 1 PRIMER

Bruins Bracing for Onrushing 'Tide

September 01, 2000|CHRIS DUFRESNE

Sure, it's a long way to go for a home game, but more than 25,000 Alabama fans are expected to make the trek west to witness the Crimson Tide's first Rose Bowl appearance since 1946.

Last time, it took Alabama four days by train to reach Pasadena from Tuscaloosa. This year's squad arrives with a greater sense of urgency.

Alabama seems poised for a national title run after winning the Southeastern Conference title last year and finishing 10-3.

The Crimson Tide suffered a key blow last week when star defensive end Kindal Moorehead tore his right Achilles' tendon in practice, but Alabama still has plenty of weapons, led by receiver Freddie Milons, who caught a school-record 65 passes last year.

Alabama Coach Mike DuBose has two quality quarterbacks, Andrew Zow and Tyler Watts, but has elected to start Zow and not mess with a platoon situation for now.

"I just don't think you can get both of them ready, especially for the first three games," DuBose said.

The game may be much closer than people think. UCLA's 4-7 season a year ago was more freakish than anything else, a combination of injuries and bad karma caused by the handicapped-parking scandal.

Two years ago, UCLA was contending for a national title and Alabama was 4-7.

The rap against Pac-10 teams is that they cannot stop behemoth squads from major conferences from controlling the trenches.

UCLA's defense, on trial again, has seven returning starters and must slow Alabama enough to give the Bruin offense a chance.

* The line: Alabama by six.

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