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This one's in the refrigerator : UCLA (4-5, 1-5) VS. WASHINGTON ST. (1-8, 0-5) Today at Martin Stadium, 2 p.m., Fox College Sports (Prime Ticket, 7 p.m.)

November 14, 2009|Chris Foster

A resurgent football program has cropped up near the Washington-Idaho border. Fortunately for UCLA, that team is 7-3 Idaho, eight miles and across a state line from woeful Washington State in Pullman. Still, an upset by the Cougars today would send the Bruins tumbling into the Pacific 10 Conference cellar. Times staff writer Chris Foster looks at some of the game's key issues and matchups.

The forecast

Weather was the dominant topic during the Pac-10's media conference call with coaches this week, at least when Washington State Coach Paul Wulff was on the line.

Of the four questions he was asked, two were about whether the weather was an advantage for his team.

"It all depends on how cold it is that day, but it could be," Wulff said.

Chitchatting about the weather is surely better than talking football when, out of the 120 major-college teams, yours ranks No. 115 in rushing, 117th in total offense, 119th in scoring, 115th against the run, 118th against the pass, 119th in total defense and 117th in scoring defense.

UCLA defensive end Korey Bosworth, who played at Plano (Texas) West High, said: "I've played in it all, thunderstorms, rain, freezing rain, ice. I don't know about everyone else here, but I'm looking forward to it."

Projections for today:

Temperature: 33 degrees.

Precipitation: 20% chance of snow.

Point spread: UCLA by 17 1/2 .

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The Prince

UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince has passed for 1,264 yards this season -- about one-third of that in his last three quarters against Oregon State and Washington. He has five touchdown passes this season, two in the fourth quarter against Oregon State and one in the first half against Washington.

If the Bruins could only keep him healthy.

Prince suffered a fractured jaw against Tennessee and a concussion against Washington, but he is showing the upside offensive coordinator Norm Chow saw early on.

"The guy hadn't played in two years, then he plays two games and got chipped up," Chow said.

If Prince had stayed healthy? "At Game 5 or 6, he probably would have been where we wanted him to be and where he wanted to be," Chow said.

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The Pauper

Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel also has kept the medical staff busy. The freshman is on crutches after suffering a partially dislocated kneecap, one of several injuries that are hampering the Cougars.

"Our team is kind of wounded right now," Wulff said. "We are just trying to play competitive and hard. Our guys are trying, obviously."

Well, they might try showing up on time.

Washington State has been outscored 145-3 in the first quarter this season.

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Tackling a problem

OK, so the UCLA defense was trampled again in the first half against Washington last week.

Yes, Huskies quarterback Jake Locker spent the day picking the Bruins apart.

And sure, UCLA had to survive Washington drives in the fourth quarter before securing a 24-23 victory.

But the Bruins looked somewhat like their old defensive selves in the second half, limiting the Huskies to 146 yards and getting another interception from Rahim Moore -- the national co-leader with eight -- to wrap things up.

Call it an improvement after giving up 463, 456 and 494 yards in their previous three games.

"There were a lot of fundamental issues we weren't addressing," Bosworth said. "We weren't tackling. We weren't pursuing the ball as we should. I feel we have addressed those. If you don't do the fundamentals, bad things happen."

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By the numbers

*--* UCLA CATEGORY WSU 20.3 Scoring 14.1 23.0 Points given up 38.6 222.4 Passing offense 195.3 100.0 Rushing offense 74.3 322.4 Total offense 269.7 201.8 Passing defense 278.1 156.9 Rushing defense 228.6 358.7 Total defense 506.7 *--*

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chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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