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UCLA's bowl options dwindle

December 02, 2007|Chris Foster and Gary Klein | Times Staff Writers

UCLA's bowl opportunities were reduced to the bargain-bin Saturday after a 24-7 loss to USC.

The Bruins will probably end up in the Las Vegas Bowl, though the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco is also a possibility.

UCLA played in the Emerald Bowl last season, losing to Florida State, and the game's officials are likely to prefer having California to pull Bay Area fans to their game this season.

"I don't care if we play in the Backyard Dirt Bowl. If I get to line up with my guys one more time, I'll be happy," UCLA defensive end Bruce Davis said. "We can play on concrete somewhere, that would be just fine with me."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, December 05, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 19 words Type of Material: Correction
UCLA football player: In Sunday's Sports section, the USC-UCLA notebook referred to Bruins tackle Brian Abrahams as Ben Abrahams.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday, December 06, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 45 words Type of Material: Correction
UCLA football player: The USC-UCLA notebook in Sunday's sports section referred to a Bruins tackle by the wrong first name, and misspelled his last name. Brian Abraham was referred to as Ben Abrahams; an item in Wednesday's "For the record" corrected only his first name.

As for the Bruins' hopes of a bigger bowl payday when the season began, Davis said, "We definitely had high hopes and we had our ups and downs. No matter what adversity you hit, you still have to fight through it. We didn't make enough plays. It didn't matter who we had in there."

In his postgame news conference, Coach Pete Carroll said this season's Trojans defense was the best he had coached at USC.

Later, though, he tempered that assessment some, saying the 2003 and 2004 teams might have had the edge because they created more turnovers.

"If I had to pick, I'd take the turnovers because they win the games," he said.

They did Saturday. USC took away three fumbles and an interception.

Washington State officials have made contact with representatives of UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker, a source familiar with the situation said. Walker is believed to be on the short list of candidates to replace Bill Doba as head coach of the Cougars.

USC cornerback Terrell Thomas was angry after UCLA receiver Dominique Johnson made a leaping, one-handed catch for a nine-yard touchdown at the end of the first half.

"I told him, 'You got lucky,' " Thomas said. "I couldn't see the ball and he made a hell of a catch."

Thomas redeemed himself in the third quarter when he intercepted a pass by Patrick Cowan, setting up the fourth-quarter touchdown that eliminated hope of a UCLA comeback.

Thomas credited linebacker Brian Cushing for knocking Johnson off his route.

"All I had to do was catch the ball," said Thomas, who has four interceptions.

Carroll said he was aware that Johnson's touchdown catch was in the same area that Mark Bradford caught the game-winning touchdown pass in Stanford's upset victory over the Trojans.

And while he is happy to go to the Rose Bowl, Carroll cannot forget the loss to the Cardinal, which probably cost the Trojans a chance to play for the national title.

"I'll just always be [angry] about what happened in the other game," he said. "I don't want that to go away. I want to remember it, so I can be better for it, you know. . . . Kind of a sick way of looking at things."

USC senior linebacker Keith Rivers played only four or five series because of an ankle injury he aggravated during Thursday's practice.

Rivers was productive, though, making three tackles and forcing and recovering a fumble. He said he would be ready for the Rose Bowl.

UCLA wide receiver Joe Cowan suffered a hamstring injury and tackle Ben Abrahams left the game with an injured right ankle.

Defensive back Altreaun Verner left the game with what was called a "stinger" by UCLA officials. He returned to the game in the second half. Tailback Craig Sheppard was limited to special teams because of a groin injury.

UCLA safety Dennis Keyes made a career-best 19 tackles, including two for losses. . . . Linebacker Rey Maualuga led USC with eight tackles. . . . Defensive tackle Fili Moala had 1 1/2 sacks, linebacker Kaluka Maiava and cornerback Shareece Wright each had one and end Kyle Moore was credited with a half-sack. . . . USC cornerback Vincent Joseph and running back Allen Bradford did not play because of suspensions for academic issues, a USC official said. . . . USC tight end Fred Davis had six receptions to increase his career total to 110. It is the most catches by a tight end in school history, eclipsing Joe Cormier's 105 in 1983-85.


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