UCLA's survival instincts were summed up by two on-field pleas Saturday.
Linebacker Akeem Ayers told the defense, "Let's punch them in the mouth," as Washington State sat on the Bruins' one-yard line in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Richard Brehaut, moments after the defense held, was just as direct while huddling in the end zone: "I said, 'Let's get the [heck] out of here.'"
Well, the Bruins got in the last jabs, then got the heck out of the Rose Bowl, wiping their brow the whole way.
UCLA's 42-28 victory over Washington State came down to a reviewed call, a goal-line stand and a Cougars defense that lived down to its low billing. That allowed Bruins Coach Rick Neuheisel to go to his strength, the relentlessly positive.
"I think the lesson that I'm going to focus on from this game is our ability to respond when things look bleak," Neuheisel said.
The Bruins (3-2 overall, 1-1 in Pacific 10 Conference play) head off to play California next week with a perplexing personality. They dominated Texas in Austin a week ago, but labored against a team that has now lost 19 of its last 20 conference games.
But "an ugly win is still a win," free safety Rahim Moore said.
There was some beauty, at least offensively. Johnathan Franklin gained 216 yards rushing and Derrick Coleman had 185. UCLA rushed for 437 yards.
Still, the Cougars — who have beaten only Montana State this season — led, 28-20, in the third quarter.
"They made us bleed today," said defensive tackle David Carter, who had three sacks. "But the thing is, we don't pass out at the sight of blood."
The Bruins did appear in need of smelling salts early in the fourth quarter after Cougars quarterback Jeff Tuel appeared to have scored on a one-yard run to break a 28-28 tie. Help for UCLA came from above . . . literally.
While Washington State (1-4, 0-1) was missing the extra point, game officials were being buzzed from the press box that a review was underway. The touchdown was overturned on review, sending UCLA's defense back onto the field.
"I said, 'We aren't going to surrender any more points,'" Ayers said. "That was the most energy we had the whole game."
Cornerback Aaron Hester and Moore stopped running back James Montgomery inches short of the goal line on fourth down.
"Their lineman kept saying, 'It's a touchdown, it's a touchdown,'" Moore said. "I told them, 'No it ain't.'"
UCLA went 99 yards the other way, 73 on a run by Coleman. Brehaut, starting in place of injured Kevin Prince, scored on one-yard run. Franklin and Coleman took turns on the next possession, with Coleman scoring from four yards to put the Bruins out of reach.
"This was a wake-up call for us," Carter said. "We shouldn't have let them put up 28 points on us."
The Bruins defense did have a bad week — Tuel threw for 311 yards. But Washington State's defense was as advertised.
The Cougars came into the game ranked 117th out of 120 teams nationally in total defense. They won't move up in the rankings.
This was the first time UCLA has had two running backs gain more than 180 yards in a game. Coleman averaged 12.3 yards per carry and Franklin 7.3. The Bruins had six running plays go for 22 or more yards.
But . . .
"We kept saying, 'Let's finish them off, let's put this team behind us,'" center Ryan Taylor said. "They kept creeping back in."
Tuel's passing got the Cougars going, but the Bruins nudged them along. A Franklin fumble led to one Washington State touchdown. Two pass-interference calls led to another.
"It looked like when the ball was up in the air we were waiting for it to come back down rather than looking like it belonged to us," Neuheisel said. "We've got to get that back fast."