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COLLEGE FOOTBALL : UCLA FYI

Bruins look past skeptics, plan for Utah

The Bruins' victory over Arizona State gives them no traction in polls, and past pattern of stumbling plays large in court of public opinion. But UCLA hopes continued success will change that.

November 08, 2011|Chris Foster
  • UCLA defensive tackle Nate Chandler fights through a block to get to Arizona State running back Cameron Marshall during a 29-28 victory at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night.
UCLA defensive tackle Nate Chandler fights through a block to get to Arizona… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

The college football world has ruled on UCLA's 29-28 victory over No. 20 Arizona State last Saturday.

* The Sun Devils were kicked out of every top 25 poll.

* UCLA didn't receive one vote in any poll.

* Utah, which lost its first four Pacific 12 Conference games, is a 71/2 -point favorite against the Bruins on Saturday.

"To be honest, none of that surprises me," UCLA senior defensive tackle Justin Edison said. "There are a lot of non-believers out there who think the Arizona State game was just a fluke."

UCLA is tied for the Pac-12 South Division lead with Arizona State and USC, but the court of public opinion remains skeptical.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, November 09, 2011 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 36 words Type of Material: Correction
College football: An article in the Nov. 8 Sports section about the progress of the UCLA football team said that the Bruins' last conference championship was in 1999. UCLA last won the Pac-10 title in 1998.

The past doesn't help UCLA's case. The last two times the Bruins played in Utah, they also had something to prove -- and failed. They were manhandled by Utah, 44-6, in 2007 and Brigham Young, 59-0, in 2008.

"I know this: if we continue to play like we're capable of playing, the recognition will come," UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel said. "As to when it comes, I'm not concerned with that, but it will come."

The Bruins (5-4 overall, 4-2 in conference play) won consecutive games for the first time this season by rallying from a 28-23 deficit to Arizona State in the last five minutes and surviving a last-second field-goal attempt.

UCLA has won four conference games for the first time in Neuheisel's four seasons as coach. The Bruins have not been in first place this deep into a season since winning their last conference title in 1999.

"I think a lot of people on the outside look at our team and see this pattern of playing good one week and not so good the next week," Edison said. "We just have to go out and prove who we are."

Neuheisel has been stressing a one-thing-at-a-time approach since the Bruins were routed, 48-12, by hapless Arizona on Oct. 20.

"We have found a formula and it isn't to get involved with the extraneous stuff," Neuheisel said.

"We've got to focus on Utah now."

The last time UCLA visited Salt Lake City for a football game, in 2007, they came in ranked 11th by the Associated Press and left with coach Karl Dorrell's job in jeopardy. It was the last time the Bruins were ranked, a streak that has reached 72 weeks, the longest in the program's history.

That game has been a topic of conversation for fifth-year seniors Nate Chandler, Mike Harris, Glenn Love and Edison the last two days.

"I don't know if we overlooked them or what, but we brought it to the attention of the team this week," Edison said. "We haven't played too well in Utah."

In 2008, the Bruins were still giddy about upsetting Tennessee in Neuheisel's first game only to have BYU hand them their worst defeat since the Great Depression.

"The idea of earning respect, fighting our way off the proverbial island, is ample to get the kind of energy and effort we are going to need," Neuheisel said. "We ask for nothing, we just want our opportunities. If we keep banging away, we'll get the respect."

Chow time

Utah has former UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow as its offensive coordinator.

Advantage Bruins, or advantage Utes?

Said Neuheisel: "It's the ultimate game of rock, paper, scissors. I know what he does in situations, but he knows I know and may do something different."

Colorado game time, TV airing set

UCLA's game against Colorado on Nov. 19 at the Rose Bowl will start at 4:30 p.m. and be televised on Versus.

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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