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SPORTS EXTRA / COLLEGE FOOTBALL | NOTES

Bruins Scramble for Bowl

November 18, 2001|STEVE HENSON and BILL PLASCHKE | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Bob Toledo made a comment when UCLA was 6-0 that his team "has qualified for the toilet bowl and will go from there."

After four consecutive losses, the chance to play in anything but a low-level bowl has been flushed away.

UCLA (6-4, 3-4 in the Pacific 10) is firmly entrenched in sixth place in the conference with one game to play, Dec. 1 against Arizona State. The five bowls that guarantee spots for Pac-10 teams are out of reach.

That leaves two distinct possibilities: The Silicon Valley Bowl in San Jose or the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho. Both will be played Dec. 31.

USC is assured of fifth place and a berth in the Las Vegas Bowl on Christmas Day. The Seattle Bowl and Sun Bowl could pick the Trojans, but are unlikely to do so.

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Early in the second quarter, the Trojans drove to the UCLA three-yard line where they faced fourth and one. Coach Pete Carroll gestured for his offense to stay on the field, then changed his mind and had to call a timeout to get his kicker onto the field.

Carroll explained that he had looked down the sideline and saw a ball boy who signaled the first down was only inches away. But after he told the offense to go for it, his assistants in the press box shouted that the Trojans were a yard and a half short.

"I've got to work on my communication system with the ball boys," Carroll said.

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Robert Thomas didn't waste any time setting the UCLA record for tackles for loss, hammering running back Sunny Byrd four yards deep in the backfield on USC's first play from scrimmage.

Thomas, one of three finalists for the Butkus Award, had two tackles for loss to give him 24, surpassing the mark of Marvcus Patton, who had 22 in 1989.

Thomas had seven tackles, increasing his season total to 106, helping to hold USC to 96 yards rushing.

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In its last four games, all wins, USC's defense has scored five touchdowns. In UCLA's last four games, its offense has scored five touchdowns....The Trojans' five losses have been by a total of 25 points, two on last-second field goals. The Bruins have lost four games by 43 points, none on last-second field goals.... The 27-point margin was the largest in the series in 22 years, since USC won 49-14, in 1979....UCLA had 28 yards rushing, its lowest total against the Trojans in 45 years, since they gained 23 yards in 1956. The Bruins' 114 total yards were the fewest by a USC opponent since Oregon had 112 in 1988.

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