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THE COLLEGES : A Game With Meaning for the Mediocre

Times Staff Writer

In other seasons, such a game as Cal State Fullerton’s match against Akron today might be no more than an uncomfortable interruption of the conference season.

This year, it’s as important as any game the Titans have remaining.

“They’re all equally important now,” Fullerton Coach Gene Murphy said.

Those are words of resignation more than conviction.

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Fullerton (3-5) is playing to avoid a losing season. Any loss in its final three games will leave the Titans under .500.

“Just the record, that’s what we’re playing for. Every win is important to us,” Murphy said. “We want a winning season, or as many wins as we can get.”

Akron, too, is trying to avoid a losing season, and must win its last three games to finish 6-5.

Gerry Faust, the former Notre Dame coach who guides the Akron Zips, said this week that he is convinced that if Cal State Long Beach and Cal State Fullerton played 10 times, Fullerton would win nine times.

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After seeing the 49ers lose to Akron, 40-0, last week, Fullerton can only hope he’s right.

The Titans endured an embarrassing loss to the 49ers 2 weeks ago, as Long Beach ended its 9-game losing streak.

“They’re a much better team than that,” Faust said after watching films of the Titans this week.

How much of that talk is true and how much is pregame hype might become clearer today when the Titans and the Zips meet at 3:30 p.m. (PDT) at the Rubber Bowl in Akron, Ohio.

Last week, the Zips beat Long Beach by piling up 374 yards rushing, limiting quarterback Jeff Graham to 85 yards passing and intercepting 3 passes.

“They beat them with the ground game,” Murphy said.

Titan Notes

Coach Gene Murphy apparently has given up on John Bavaro, the starting noseguard who has been AWOL since before the Titans’ trip to New Mexico State last week. Bavaro, a transfer from Glendale College, has left a team without notice before. A year ago, he worked out in the preseason with San Diego State before leaving abruptly. “He’s had a history of (leaving). He did it to us,” Murphy said. Is Bavaro through with the Titans? “I guess for all intents and purposes,” Murphy said. . . . The Titans took a side trip Friday, visiting the Professional Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. . . . Titan assistant John Miklesh, who handles the special teams and the outside linebackers, is recovering from back surgery this week but is expected to return in time for the Titans’ next game, Nov. 5 against San Jose State. . . . Offensive lineman Dennis Ellis (shoulder), tight end James Noel (shoulder) and linebacker Damon Moore (ankle) did not make the trip. . . . Bill Bryan, the senior linebacker who is 37 tackles shy of the career record of 336 held by Terry Hubbard, will play for the first time in 3 weeks. He has been slowed by ankle and knee injuries. “I think he’ll get that record,” Murphy said.

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