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UCLA FYI : Bruins still have hopes of bowling

November 16, 2009|Chris Foster

UCLA can claim progress at this point. The Bruins, after all, have one more victory than they did a year ago.

But getting everyone else to see this as a great leap forward will take something more tangible: a bowl game.

"A bowl game will give us that many more practices, and give increased momentum as we talk with recruits about where we're going, though I think that is happening anyway," Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "It will be a signal to those people who are not really watching that this is really moving forward."

The Bruins sit on the fringe of the bowl game race with a 5-5 record after a 43-7 pasting of Washington State. Neuheisel set the success bar at a bowl game back in August, but had to reconfigure that idea during a five-game losing streak.

Neuheisel, though, said his team is bowl-worthy.

"I think when you look at the schedule we've played and look at the schedules others have played, I don't think we have to be ashamed at all," Neuheisel said.

There are 34 bowl games -- six attached to the Pacific 10 Conference -- leaving spots for 68 teams. There are 60 teams that are already bowl-eligible with six victories over Football Bowl Subdivision teams. Another 27 still have an opportunity to become bowl-eligible, including UCLA.

There are six teams in the Pac-10 that are already bowl-eligible.

The Bruins' chances are hurt by the fact that all five losses are in conference play. UCLA needs to win its final two conference games against Arizona State and USC. The Bruins would then need to hold the edge in tiebreakers once the season ends.

"I'm just focused on us getting to 6-5 this week," Neuheisel said.

The Bruins could also finish with a 7-5 record and not qualify for one of the conference's bowl games, though in that situation they could earn an at-large spot to a game not affiliated with the Pac-10.

But the UCLA fan base is known for light numbers at road games, which could make the Bruins financially unappealing for a bowl game at-large spot.

Asked if an invitation, such as one to the Humanitarian Bowl, would be of interest, Neuheisel said, "Absolutely. That's me talking, and those decisions are made higher, but we will play anywhere, any time."

Ramirez situation

Junior tailback Christian Ramirez did not make the trip, a decision Neuheisel made.

"We needed some other bodies; we had enough tailbacks," Neuheisel said.

Ramirez has not played since fumbling against Arizona on Oct. 24. As for his future, Neuheisel said, "I think everybody has choices when they are not getting playing time. One choice is to blame everybody and be disappointed. . . . The second choice is to work hard and show people they made a mistake by being ready for the opportunity."

Young commits

John Young, a tight end from Los Angeles Loyola, said he has committed to play at UCLA next season.

"It seemed like the right fit," said Young, who is 6 feet 4, 225 pounds. "They have a good base for a team and a great coach. I've seen their set offense, and they use the tight end a lot."

Young is ranked 26th at his position by Rivals.com. He also visited Arizona State and was recruited by Louisiana State.

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chris.foster@latimes.com

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