UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel encourages the Bruins during the fourth quarter… (Brendan Maloney / US Presswire )
Call it a de facto open week for UCLA.
Washington State is coming to the Rose Bowl on Saturday and, although UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel may get antsy at the suggestion, this is the only breather the Bruins have this season.
The Cougars rank 108th out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams against the run, giving up 209.8 yards per game ÃƒÂ‚Ã‚Â… and that's the upside of their defense.
They are 116th each in scoring defense (43.0) and passing defense (286.2).
Easy pickings for a team that just slapped around Texas, 34-12, on Saturday. Neuheisel's stance, of course, is straight from the coach's handbook.
"If we can't learn the lesson from last weekend about people counting one team out, then we aren't very smart," Neuheisel said.
As for the hapless Cougars, Neuheisel said: "We have great respect for Washington State. We know they have struggled of late, but they will be a bunch of proud guys coming to Los Angeles."
It's a bunch of proud guys who are sporting a 1-3 record after being pasted by USC, 50-16, in Pullman on Saturday.
The Cougars' victory this season was against Montana State, and they had to rally to get that, scoring 16 consecutive points in the fourth quarter for a 23-22 victory.
So, time to break out the California game tapes to start preparing for the Oct. 9 game in Berkeley?
Neuheisel bootlegged around such notions.
"Let me say this, we just have to get better," Neuheisel said. "This week is about focus. We have to earn the right to have a great afternoon."
Everyone seems to be having great afternoons against the Cougars. The Bruins' to-do list?
"There is going to be a day when we will have to be able to throw the ball," said Neuheisel, whose team threw for 27 yards against Texas.
Washington State gave up 328 yards passing against USC.
"We're not clicking on all cylinders in respect to all the machinations of the pistol offense," Neuheisel said.
Washington gave up 613 yards against USC.
Neuheisel, though, said, "This is about us. We have to play our best."
Against Washington State? That may be a given.
After all, the one opponent Neuheisel's teams have dominated the last two years is Washington State. The Bruins beat the Cougars, 28-3, in 2008 and 43-7 last season.
Texas dropped from seventh to 21st in the Associated Press poll after Saturday's loss. UCLA received points in the poll (nine) for the first time this season, though the Bruins remain unranked for a 50th consecutive week, the longest stretch in school history.
Akeem Ayers suffered a bruised shoulder against Texas, though Neuheisel said, "I don't think it is anything critical." Quarterback Kevin Prince limped off briefly in the second quarter, but suffered "no damage" in his right knee, Neuheisel said.