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Still smarting after 24 hours, UCLA waits for a different bowl

Bruins Coach Jim Mora, who insists players expunge games — win or lose — after a day's time, admits it will be tough to forget how close his team was to going to the Rose Bowl.

December 01, 2012|By Chris Foster
  • Stanford receiver Drew Terrell catches a touchdown pass against UCLA cornerback Sheldon Price to tie the score, 24-24, in the fourth quarter Friday night.
Stanford receiver Drew Terrell catches a touchdown pass against UCLA cornerback… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

The 24-hour rule won't be applicable for UCLA this week.

The Bruins were so close to going to the Rose Bowl they could see parade floats. Instead, they will await their next marching orders.

Stanford rallied in the fourth quarter for a 27-24 victory in the Pac-12 title game Friday, with its Rose Bowl spot guaranteed when UCLA's Ka'imi Fairbairn's 52-yard field goal attempt fell well short with 34 seconds left.

Now the Bruins have to move on.

The Valero Alamo Bowl and Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl are the two possible destinations. Oregon State and UCLA are the Pac-12 teams that those two bowls will choose from, according to a person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to comment.

Some Bruins players were in no mood to ponder bowl possibilities Friday night.

"It hurts more to think about the future," defensive end Cassius Marsh said. "We worked all year for [the Rose Bowl] and didn't get it."

Coach Jim Mora, who insists players expunge games — win or lose — after 24 hours, admitted it would be difficult to follow his own decree.

"We'll eventually move on, but this one is going to sting for a while," Mora said. "You don't get this close and lose and not have it hurt."

Others were already casting an eye toward the bowl game, which will be the last UCLA moment for some.

"I'm proud of our team, proud of where we came from after last season," senior cornerback Aaron Hester said. "We are a much better team than we were in the past. We wanted the Rose Bowl, but, shoot, we'll get through it and get ready for a bowl game. It's one more chance for us."

Whether that chance is in San Antonio or San Diego will be announced Sunday. Where the Bruins would fall is "50-50," according to a person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to comment.

Stanford, as Pac-12 champion, goes to the Rose Bowl. Oregon is also expected to go to a Bowl Championship Series game, most likely the Fiesta Bowl.

Oregon State and UCLA, which both finished 6-3 in conference play, are next in line.

The first pick of Pac-12 teams goes to the Alamo Bowl. The Holiday Bowl picks second. But bowl officials have negotiated picks in the past and there are indications that the Holiday Bowl would prefer UCLA, in part because of the Los Angeles television market.

UCLA's fan base rarely travels in great numbers, which could also affect the decision. Only a small contingent of Bruins fans journeyed to Stanford for the conference championship game.

The Alamo Bowl paid a reported $3.175 million per team in 2011 and the Holiday Bowl paid a reported $2.15 million. The Rose Bowl paid $17 million per team.

The money goes into a bowl pool that is divvied up among conference members.

No matter where the Bruins are headed, they will need some time to regroup.

"I mean, it's life," senior running back Johnathan Franklin said. "On the field, off the field, you have letdowns and trials. All you can do is learn from it and get better. We'll watch film, look at the mistakes we made and get better. We have one more game. We've got to give it our all."

UCLA reached the conference title game for the second consecutive season. A year ago, the Bruins were pushed aside by Oregon. This time they had a 24-17 lead at the start of the fourth quarter.

Stanford, behind the play of redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan, scored 10 fourth-quarter points.

"It felt like we had a grip on the game," Mora said. "I felt we had a lot of passion in the fourth quarter. I thought we had a lot of fight. You have to credit Stanford."

The Bruins finished with a 9-4 record, their most wins since the 2005 season.

"Our objectives are not to just be one-year wonders," Mora said. "We're trying to build something here that is special and lasting. Every year we want to be in [the Pac-12 title game] and get to the national title game."

This season, the Bruins will settle for San Antonio or San Diego.

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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