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SPORTS WEEKEND | WEEK 5 PRIMER

But Can Bruins Win on the Road?

September 22, 2000|CHRIS DUFRESNE

The down side about the Pacific 10 Conference being back is all its top-drawer teams now get to start knocking the rankings out of each other in conference play.

Take this game, a pivotal early season Pac-10 moment.

UCLA used two victories against No. 3 teams to vault to No. 6 in the Associated Press poll, but the Bruins' national title hopes can be wiped out in one afternoon.

Oregon hasn't beaten UCLA since 1995 and hasn't downed the Bruins in Eugene since 1990, but forget the history.

This figures to be the toughest road test for UCLA until a Nov. 11 date at Washington.

We'll find out this weekend if UCLA is title material. The Bruins have lost six consecutive road games dating to that crushing loss at Miami in 1998.

Oregon has won 16 consecutive games at Autzen Stadium since a 1997 defeat to UCLA.

Why Oregon isn't ranked is a mystery. The Ducks are the Pac-10's winningest team the last five years and their lone loss this year was a four-point defeat at No. 7 Wisconsin, a game in which Oregon held a fourth-quarter lead.

You can bet Oregon Coach Mike Bellotti will stack his defense to stop UCLA tailback DeShaun Foster and take his chances on Ryan McCann, the Bruins' quarterback. McCann, playing in place of the injured Cory Paus, has not been the model of consistency.

Oregon, in fact, is the much more stable team at quarterback, with Joey Harrington as the starter and a capable backup in A.J. Feeley.

The Ducks running game is led by Maurice Morris, who averaged 113.3 yards in Oregon's first three games.

This is the first of three defining games for Oregon, which hosts Washington next week and then, after a bye, travels to USC on Oct. 14.

The line: Oregon by 3 1/2.

RATING THE TV GAMES

**** Whoa, Nellie

*** The yardwork can wait

** OK to pay bills while watching

* For XFL scouts only

** Minnesota (2-1) at Purdue (2-1), 9 a.m., ESPN.

It is not true Minnesota's first 15 plays each week are scripted by a tutor.

* The line: Purdue by 13 1/2.

** Syracuse (1-1) at East Carolina (2-1), 9 a.m., ESPN2.

Syracuse fans are relieved knowing loss to Cincinnati already fulfills September choke quota.

* The line: East Carolina by 4 1/2.

** Kentucky (2-1) at No. 3 Florida (3-0) 12:30, Channel 2.

Tests reveal mammoth Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen is actually larger than Steve Spurrier's ego.

* The line: Florida by 22 1/2.

*** No. 16 Notre Dame (2-1) at No. 23 Michigan State (2-0), 12:30 p.m., Channel 7.

NBC reportedly wanted to show the game Tuesday night, wrapped around a flowery feature on backup quarterback Gary Godsey and his dog, an Irish setter.

* The line: Michigan State by 4.

** Louisville (2-0) at No. 2 Florida State (3-0), 3 p.m., ESPN2.

Bowden wants to know if it's pronounced Lurville or Lulville.

* The line: Florida State by 34.

** Air Force (2-0) at Utah (0-3), 4 p.m., Channel 7.

Air Force has the nation's leading offense, while Utah has more or less been offensive.

* The line: Utah by 3.

** Houston (1-2) at No. 15 Texas (1-1), 4 p.m., FSN.

To confuse matters, Texas Coach Mack Brown announces Major Simms will start at quarterback.

* The line: Texas by 24.

*** No. 10 Michigan (2-1) at No. 19 Illinois (3-0), 4:30 p.m., ESPN.

Schools glad to be back in league play after struggling against left-coast super conference.

* The line: Michigan by 6 1/2.

** Alabama (1-2) at Arkansas (2-0), 6 p.m., ESPN2.

To save costs, Alabama offers team scorekeeper an attractive buyout package.

* The line: Alabama by 2 1/2.

** Hawaii (0-1) at Texas El Paso (1-2), 7 p.m. (delayed), FSW2.

Billed in the islands as the most daring Pacific crossing since Thor Heyerdahl's "Kon-Tiki."

* The line: Texas El Paso by 9.

** California (1-1) at Fresno State (0-2), 7:15 p.m., FSN.

At Illinois last week, at Fresno State this week? Did Stanford make Cal's schedule?

* The line: Fresno State by 2 1/2.

THE OTHER GAMES

SATURDAY

*--*

FAVORITE LINE UNDERDOG at Oregon State 16 San Diego State at Washington State 10 1/2 Idaho at Arizona State 21 1/2 Utah State at Ohio State 11 1/2 Penn State at Boston College 20 1/2 Navy at Wisconsin 16 Northwestern Memphis 6 1/2 at Army Boise State 10 at Central Michigan at Ohio University 8 Akron at Georgia 29 New Mexico State at Nebraska 41 1/2 Iowa at Indiana 5 Cincinnati at Miami, Ohio 23 Kent at Kansas State 51 1/2 North Texas at Oklahoma 33 Rice at Brigham Young 8 1/2 Nevada Las Vegas Miami 7 at West Virginia Clemson 9 at Virginia at Pittsburgh 21 Rutgers at Tennessee 36 Louisiana Monroe Toledo 2 at Western Michigan at Maryland 20 Middle Tennessee at North Carolina 3 Marshall at Temple 14 1/2 Eastern Michigan at Wyoming 18 Nevada at Vanderbilt 17 Duke at Tulsa 6 1/2 Louisiana Tech at Auburn 26 1/2 Northern Illinois Bowling Green 20 1/2 at Buffalo at South Carolina 1 1/2 Mississippi State Southern Mississippi 6 at Oklahoma State at Southern Methodist 1 Tulane at Texas Christian 26 1/2 Arkansas State at Louisiana State 17 Alabama Birmingham

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5 THINGS TO LOOK FOR

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