There are no sure things in college football.
But San Diego State comes close, at least when UCLA is involved.
The teams play for the 22nd time Saturday at the Rose Bowl. UCLA has won 20 of 21.
San Diego State's highlight? A 13-13 tie . . . in 1924 -- the same year the Bruins lost to Pomona, 50-7.
So UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel went into the Coaching 101 file Monday to build up the opponent.
"You look at the personnel a year ago and you see a team on the doorstep of beating a Notre Dame team early in the season," Neuheisel said.
The Aztecs, 2-10 last season, played the Fighting Irish close, losing, 21-13.
Since the renewal of the UCLA-San Diego State series in 1984 following a 50-year layoff, the Bruins have won the 14 games by an average of 24 points. Only three games have been decided by fewer than two touchdowns.
"I don't know what happened in those 21 games," Neuheisel said. ". . . It's just a different time. If we're lucky enough to win the game, I'm going to be excited as I can and we'll look to grow from it."
And if the unexpected happens and the Bruins struggle, or even lose, is it a signal that the program is not on track?
"I think it can signal to that if people choose," Neuheisel said. "I look at this as a very young team getting ready to play another team."
Dye is cast
Tony Dye may have to wait a few days to get the official nod, but all signs point to him starting at strong safety.
Dye spent Monday's practice working with the first team, and even defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough was having a hard time keeping alive the competition between Dye and Glenn Love.
"Right now, [Dye] has been playing better," Bullough said. "Until the other guy steps up, he is leading the competition."
Dye, a redshirt freshman, has some experience as the team's nickel back. He combined that applied knowledge with some basic study skills and came to camp ready to win the job.
"I got in the film room and I got into the play book," Dye said. "I've dragged that big, old play book up to my room every night."
UCLA and San Diego State officials are monitoring the fire situation near the Rose Bowl. The game is scheduled to be played but Neuheisel said, "We'll leave it to the experts; the people in Pasadena and the people fighting the fire will be the ones to determine [if the game is to be postponed]."
High and low
Quarterback Kevin Prince ended Monday's practice on a high note, completing four of six passes for 48 yards in a two-minute drill to set up a field-goal attempt. But Jeff Locke missed the kick.
Defensive tackle Jess Ward, out the last two weeks with a sprained right knee, is expected to play Saturday. He should be available for 15 to 20 plays. . . . Wide receiver Gavin Ketchum (hamstring) and tailback Christian Ramirez (ankle) will not play. . . . Tackle Micah Kia will have surgery today to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. . . . Sophomore Jeff Baca will start at left guard against San Diego State, offensive line coach Bob Palcic said. . . . Korey and Kyle Bosworth returned to practice Monday after attending their grandfather's funeral in Oklahoma.