UCLA tailback Kahlil Bell hobbled off the field at the end of the first half against Washington State, still bothered by a high-ankle sprain that forced him to sit out two games.
He'd rushed for 32 yards, including a one-yard touchdown run. He came off the field after catching a seven-yard pass that was nullified by a holding penalty.
He was back in the lineup when the second half started, another example of Bell's drive to remain on the field, but sat out the last 10 minutes. He finished with 43 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
Bell has returned quickly from previous injuries. He suffered a torn knee ligament against Washington State during the 2007 season, but returned only eight months after surgery.
This season, Bell suffered the high-ankle sprain early in the opener against Tennessee, yet returned last week to gain 73 yards rushing against Fresno State.
"I know there is nobody that works harder than me," Bell said this week about his recovery from previous injuries. "Getting back in shape this year and being cleared for contact before training camp started, that took a lot of work. There were days where I was saying, 'Man, here we go again, how much longer is this going to take?' But I have faith in myself, faith in God and many people around me who support me."
There was a point not too many years ago when Washington State had one of the best programs in the Pacific 10. The Cougars won the conference in 2002, losing to Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl, and finished second in 2001 and 2003.
And that was that. The Cougars have not had a winning record since 2003.
"I don't have to spin it, the facts are we lost kids," Coach Paul Wulff said. "The last three or four years, kids have left the program, whether they didn't pan out or flunked out. It has created a huge hole."
On the other hand, Wulff said, "That has allowed us to give players opportunity. We have proven we can win here, and we'll do it again."
UCLA's marketing department, like the Bruins, is taking small steps forward. School officials were a little red-faced at the sight of so much red at the previous week's game -- the result of newspaper advertisements paid for by the UCLA marketing department urging Fresno State fans to turn out at the Rose Bowl.
This week, they knew what school they were marketing -- they just apparently didn't know what conference the Bruins play in.
A posting in "Bruins Locker Room," the athletic department's online newsletter, said that tickets were still available this week under the heading: "Bruins play final nonconference game."
For the record
Washington State's senior wide receiver Brandon Gibson caught a pass from quarterback Marshall Lobbestael on the Cougars' first play on offense for a 15-yard gain. It was notable because it meant Gibson has caught at least one pass in 29 consecutive games and it kept him tied with Arizona's Mike Thomas for the longest current streak in the Pac-10. Thomas had three catches for the Wildcats against Washington on Saturday.
Gibson's uncle, Vaughn Williams, played in the NFL for the San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts.
Odds and split ends
UCLA defensive tackle Brigham Harwell suffered a sprained finger on his right hand, but remained in the game. . . . Freshman defensive back Tony Dye was used as the nickel back in the Bruins' defense for the first time this season. . . . Quarterback Chris Forcier made his UCLA debut, replacing Kevin Craft with five minutes to play.