As if UCLA doesn't have enough challenges, this week the Bruins face an Oregon State team that comes into the Rose Bowl looking for revenge.
The Beavers haven't left Pasadena as a winner since 2000. And their home loss to UCLA represented a low point last season.
This fall is different. They rank among the Pacific 10 Conference leaders after an upset victory over USC and control their own destiny.
If they can win out in the regular season, they are guaranteed a return trip on New Year's Day.
That would be their first Rose Bowl since 1965. When Lyndon Johnson was in the White House.
"I know Oregon State is going to be tough," UCLA quarterback Kevin Craft said. "They're in the upper echelon."
They also escaped a close call this weekend, intercepting a two-point attempt with 21 seconds remaining to hang on for a 27-25 victory over Arizona State.
Quarterback Lyle Moevao entered that game as the Pac-10 leader in passing yards but left in the second quarter with a sore right shoulder. He was replaced by Sean Canfield, who threw an interception but rebounded to pass for 218 yards and two touchdowns.
Moevao will be reevaluated today and has not been ruled out for Saturday's game, the Oregonian reported on Sunday.
No matter who starts at quarterback, the Beavers still have one of the conference's best running backs in Jacquizz Rodgers, who added to his league-leading rushing total with 133 yards against Arizona State.
"We all got a chance to see the 'SC game," Bruin receiver Terrence Austin said. "We know that they're a really good team."
If nothing else, the Bruins believe that their defensive play continues to give them a fighting chance.
After the loss to California on Oct. 25, UCLA ranked third against the pass and fifth overall in the conference. But the defense has been put under pressure by an offense that struggles to generate yards and points, especially on the ground.
"If we can play with that kind of effort on defense the rest of the way and shore up our offense, manage some sort of running game, then I think we have a chance for a great last month," Coach Rick Neuheisel said.
The other guy
Last winter, Texas Tech Coach Mike Leach's name surfaced in the UCLA search that ended with Neuheisel's hiring. Leach was never a serious candidate.
On Saturday night, he guided the Red Raiders to an upset victory over top-ranked Texas. They are ranked second in the most-recent Associated Press poll.
UCLA (3-5, 2-3) vs.
Oregon State (5-3, 4-1)
Saturday at the Rose Bowl
3 p.m., Prime