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UCLA FOOTBALL

Like Montana was in '29, Washington is UCLA's ticket to erase conference losing streak

Bruin quarterback Prince has looked good in practice, while the Huskies have major passing issues. Even if UCLA falters again, Washington State and Arizona State await on the schedule.

November 07, 2009

UCLA (3-5, 0-5) VS.

WASHINGTON (3-5, 2-3)

Today at Rose Bowl, 12:30 p.m.,

Prime Ticket

UCLA plays Washington today, and Bruins Coach Rick Neuheisel has never lost to one of his former teams. He is 2-0 against Colorado and 2-0 against the Huskies. Then again, he had never lost to Stanford until this season. Times staff writer Chris Foster looks at some of the game's key matchups and issues:

Shine or whine?

UCLA's next three games are against teams in the bottom half of the Pacific 10 Conference standings -- the Huskies, Washington State and Arizona State.

For the Bruins, who are 0-5 in conference games, it's time to make up some ground -- or tumble further. Whatever happens today, UCLA is a week away from facing Washington State in a game for ninth place.

UCLA has seven consecutive conference losses over two seasons, matching the longest streak in the program's history. The Bruins lost their first seven conference games in 1928-29 before beating Montana -- yes, Montana -- a month after the stock market crashed.

With or without

Two years ago, Washington quarterback Jake Locker showed up, and showed off, at the Rose Bowl. He threw for 216 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 92 yards. The Bruins had to scrap to get a 44-31 victory.

Last season in Seattle, Locker sat out because of a thumb injury and Ronnie Fouch, his replacement, completed seven of 22 passes for 39 yards and had minus-22 yards rushing. The Bruins won, 27-7.

Locker struggled through practice this week because of a deep thigh bruise. Although he is expected to play, it is unclear how nimble he will be.

"He has to have the ability to escape and take hits," Washington Coach Steve Sarkisian said. "He relies on his legs to get out of trouble and make plays."

Fouch? He has thrown one pass this season -- an incompletion.

Prince of this city

UCLA fan websites were on hold this week as critics were unable to come up with knee-jerk reactions to the Bruins' quarterback situation.

Kevin Prince versus Richard Brehaut was put on hold after Prince passed for 198 yards in the fourth quarter against Oregon State.

Brehaut played one series -- four plays -- in the second quarter, and fumbled the only time he dropped back to pass.

Prince has passed for more than 300 yards in two of the last three games. Of course, those came against California and Oregon State, ranked Nos. 115 and 116 against the pass out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams.

Call Washington the 101st airborne -- that's where the Huskies rank.

Prince, in preparing, had "his best week of practice," Neuheisel said.

Sark-chasm

Sarkisian's team has had a memorable season.

But less so after a Sept. 19 victory over USC.

Since that Mt. St. Helens-like eruption in the college football world, Washington is 1-4. The Huskies' only victory came on a fluke play against Arizona that is still under review in Tucson.

Still, Washington fans have to be happy. The Huskies last season were the first 0-12 team in Pac-10 history.

Indefensible

UCLA's last three games read like area codes: 494, 456, 463.

That's the total yardage the Bruins gave up against Cal, Arizona and Oregon State.

"I was depressed, I was hurt, I felt like I let the world down," linebacker Reggie Carter said of the Oregon State loss. "The offense did good, but we gave up the game in the last two minutes. You know how you feel when your brother fights for you and you let him down? We have to make amends."

The spread

UCLA is a 5 1/2 -point favorite. The only other times this season the Bruins have been favored, they won -- against San Diego State and Kansas State.

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By the numbers

*--* UCLA CATEGORY UW 19.9 Scoring 24.6 23.0 Points given up 29.8 203.9 Passing offense 246.0 102.0 Rushing offense 119.1 305.9 Total offense 365.1 197.6 Passing defense 249.0 157.5 Rushing defense 174.5 355.1 Total defense 423.5 *--*

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chris.foster@latimes.com

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