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Week off helped Bruins

UCLA FAST FORWARD

November 19, 2007|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

Looking ahead to the Bruins' game against No. 9 Oregon (Saturday, Rose Bowl, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7).

First look: Having a week off seemed to help. The Bruins didn't have to explain another loss, their next opponent got significantly weaker and Notre Dame beat Duke, which means UCLA will not be the only victory for the Fighting Irish this season.

Maybe the Bruins should have included more off weeks this season?

When quarterback Dennis Dixon hit the turf against Arizona on Thursday in Tucson, the high-flying Ducks may have hit the wall. They lost the game, their chance at the national championship game and now need help to reach the Rose Bowl.

Oregon has weathered key injuries all season, losing seven starters in seven weeks, but the Ducks kept on winning.

That was until Thursday, when they lost Dixon, the one player they couldn't afford to lose. He will undergo knee surgery and is done for the season.

The Bruins need one victory to become bowl eligible, and the Ducks now seem the most likely candidate to get the Bruins a postseason date.

If not them, USC waits in the wings as UCLA's next opponent.

One thing was cleared up last week. Apparently, the only football teams Notre Dame can beat this season are from basketball schools.

Topic of the week: Quarterbacks.

Osaar Rasshan vs. Brady Leaf. Who would have seen that coming?

The Bruins were left using Rasshan after Ben Olson and Patrick Cowan were injured. He nearly rallied them to victory against Arizona State, but, with a chance to win the game, he had a pass intercepted.

Still, while losing Olson and Cowan was a hardship, neither was considered in Dixon's category.

Replacing a Heisman Trophy candidate is a difficult task. Leaf's former claim to fame was being Ryan Leaf's little brother. Leaf was wild against Arizona, with one of his passes being intercepted and returned for a touchdown, but nearly rallied the Ducks for a victory.

So which quarterback will make the fewest mistakes Saturday? Funny what fans can be reduced to rooting for from their teams.

The wild card in the mix is Olson, who is trying to get back from an injured knee. Coach Karl Dorrell said that Olson could be ready to be the "emergency" quarterback Saturday.

The Bruins' chances for a bowl game are diminishing rapidly and they are trying to save their coach's job. If ever there were a break-glass-pull-alarm moment, this seems to be it.

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chris.foster@latimes.com

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Season log (5-5)

Sept. 1: Stanford (3-7, 2-6); won, 45-17

Sept. 8: Brigham Young (8-2); won, 27-17

Sept. 15: at Utah (8-3); lost, 44-6

Sept. 22: Washington (4-7, 2-6); won, 44-31

Sept. 29: at Oregon State (7-4, 5-3); won, 40-14

Oct. 6: Notre Dame (2-9); lost, 20-6

Oct. 20: California (6-5, 3-5); won, 30-21

Oct. 27: at Washington State (4-7, 2-6); lost, 27-7

Nov. 3: at Arizona (5-6, 4-4); lost, 34-27

Nov. 10: Arizona State (9-1, 6-1); lost, 24-20

Saturday: Oregon (8-2, 5-2); The Ducks were starry-eyed national title contenders one moment, on UCLA's level the next. Call it the Subterranean BCS-sick Blues.

Dec. 1: at USC (8-2, 5-2)

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