It Could Be Wet and Wild in Eugene

The forecast is for rain in Oregon.

Big deal. A tailgate party in Oregon involves three people: one to bring the food, another to bring the beer and the third to bring the tent. But there's no tent over Autzen Stadium in Eugene, where UCLA and Oregon play today.

"I think that rain tends to favor the team that runs the ball best," Oregon Coach Mike Bellotti said. "UCLA's big, experienced offensive line and Skip Hicks should make them the better running team."

Maybe, but Bruin Coach Bob Toledo isn't so sure.

"Lot of mistakes take place in the rain," he said. "There are a lot of fumbled snaps, the wind affects the kicking game. I think both teams are very similar in what we do, offensively.

"I don't know who it favors. I hope it's not raining for both teams."

But with the weather in mind, UCLA spent part of each practice this week working with footballs taken out of a bucket of water.

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Bellotti says Oregon has been running the same offense for nine seasons, altered to fit whims of various offensive coordinators. The nine years correspond to the transition from Toledo to Bellotti as coordinator, which he was until assuming the job of head coach.

Actually, the offense is older, Toledo said.

"A lot of things look familiar," he said. "I know one thing for a fact, when he came in a lot of those plays remained and a lot of the terminology remained. In fact, when [UCLA offensive coordinator] Al [Borges] was there, a lot of those terms still stayed. So they're running a lot of the things they were when I was there."

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Larry Atkins, UCLA's strong safety and interception leader with four, can't play today because of his bruised thigh. Eric Whitfield, the team's leading tackler with 24, will be the starter. Whitfield was the starting roverback for the season opener at Washington State but has been supplanted by Wasswa Serwanga at the position.

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