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UCLA FOOTBALL

Bruins could be in position to consider the (bowl) possibilities

A victory over Arizona State on Saturday would take UCLA to 6-5 heading into the season finale against USC, potentially opening up postseason vistas for the Bruins.

November 21, 2009|By Chris Foster
  • Bruins receiver Terrence Austin hauls in a pass against Washington's Desmond Trufant in a Pac-10 game earlier this month.
Bruins receiver Terrence Austin hauls in a pass against Washington's… (Gary A. Vasquez / US Presswire )

Bowled over?

OK, to get one of the Pacific 10 Conference's automatic bowl bids, UCLA would need USC to lose its last two games and California to win at least one, or . . .

California and USC to lose the last two games, and Washington to win the last two games, or . . .

USC to lose the last two games and Washington to win the last two games, or . . .

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to get a bill through the Senate banning the BCS with a rider that requires that the Bruins get TCU's Mountain West Conference bowl slot so the Horned Frogs can play for the national title, or . . .

Aw, to heck with all that, nothing happens for the Bruins unless they first beat Arizona State.

Line dancing

You can't beat the Sun Devils without beating their defensive front. Oregon rushed for 268 yards and won. Washington State rushed for minus-54 and lost. Stanford rushed for 237 and won. Idaho State rushed for minus-five and lost.

Those were the extremes, but Arizona State's strength is its defensive front. The defense is so good that even after the 44-21 loss to Oregon, the Sun Devils still rank 21st nationally against the run and 15th in total defense.

"They're not a gadget-ty team," UCLA center Kai Maiava said. "They do well with a basic front because they have good players. To me, that's the challenge because they are going to come right at you."

The key matchups probably will involve the guys next to Maiava -- left guard Jeff Baca and the tag-team tandem of Jake Dean and Darius Savage on the other side. They will face defensive tackles Lawrence Guy and Saia Falahola.

Guy has six tackles for losses and a team-high 4.5 sacks. Falahola has a team-high 7.5 tackles for losses and four sacks.

Meanwhile, coming off the flank, defensive end Dexter Davis has 30 sacks in his career, 2.5 this season.

Quarterback peaks

Samson vs. a Prince? Nope, it's not a Biblical tale. Kevin Prince is firmly in control of the UCLA quarterback spot. Samson Szakacsy gets the first start of his career at Arizona State.

Just who is Szakacsy? Well, his Facebook page says, "My name is Samson and I'm from Mars."

Actually, he is a 6-foot-4 sophomore from Camarillo. He came off the bench against Oregon and put together two touchdown drives, throwing for one and running for the other.

His mobility will be an issue the Bruins have to deal with. His personality is Arizona State Coach Dennis Erickson's concern.

Szakacsy, who has shoulder-length hair, is a global sustainability major, as well a musician who plays in two bands.

It's been a while since Bono (Steve) has played in the Rose Bowl and weeks since Bono (Hewson) has sung there. So for Bruins fans who missed the 1984 season and U2's concert last month, they may see both from Szakacsy today -- maybe a duet with Rick Neuheisel, UCLA's guitar-playing coach?

Making a point

Szakacsy has his work cut out for him. The Sun Devils have averaged 16 points in losing their last four games.

UCLA's offensive concerns center on its running game, but Prince has thrown for 724 yards in his last seven quarters on the field.

The spread

UCLA is a 4 1/2 -point favorite. The Bruins have not lost when favored this season.

By the numbers UCLA CATEGORY ASU22.6Scoring23.821.4 Points given up21.0232.6Passing offense216.8113.2Rushing offense122.7345.8Total offense339.5192.4Passing defense195.9148.5Rushing defense105.5340.9Total defense301.4chris.foster@latimes.com

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