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Bruins Will Remember the Alamo --and Lesson of Kansas State Upset

The lesson Kansas State learned the hard way Tuesday in San Antonio, about what happens to a team that is not emotionally healed or excited to play in a bowl game that was more of a consolation prize, came also as a reminder to UCLA.

“I’m just going to mention to them that if you’re not ready to play, it shows what can happen,” Coach Bob Toledo said.

There were differences, of course.

It was a massive drop for the Wildcats, who went from national-championship contenders to playing in the Alamo Bowl after one loss. UCLA still gets a major, the Rose Bowl.

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Plus, it was a huge upset for unranked Purdue to beat No. 4 Kansas State. A Wisconsin win Friday in Pasadena would not be nearly the surprise.

Either way, the Bruins noticed.

“I definitely think that was a great wake-up call,” quarterback Cade McNown said Wednesday, the day after Kansas State’s loss. “It let you know what happens if you get down. . . . You could easily see how that could happen, if you let the past affect the present and the future. But I don’t think we’ll let that happen.

“And, by the way, the Rose Bowl is not the Alamo Bowl.”

Meaning UCLA won’t have the same difficulty as Kansas State getting up for its game. Even if it isn’t the Fiesta Bowl.

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UCLA has had one of the top offenses in the nation each of the last two years, averaging 39.8 points in 1997 and 40.5 the first 11 games of this season, but Al Borges, as personable as he is successful, has yet to draw any interest from schools searching for a head coach.

“Disappointed is not a good word,” said Borges, a finalist for the Frank Broyles Award, given to the top assistant in the nation. “I’ve been so focused on getting this offense ready to play Wisconsin that I haven’t thought about that. I sort of take the opportunities as they come. Maybe that’s a good thing, maybe it isn’t. I don’t spend a lot of time trying to sell myself to other people.”

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If not disappointing, then surprising?

“A little bit, I guess,” he said. “But there hasn’t been a lot of opportunities on the West Coast, and that’s where people know me best. If there was, then I think it would have been a little more of a surprise.”

Borges is finishing his third season at UCLA, after holding the same position at Oregon, Boise State and Portland State.

“He’s got head-coaching potential,” Toledo said. “I’m sure he’ll get some interest from some people. But this is a pretty good situation for him, and he knows it. We’re good friends. Great friends.”

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Does this make USC feel any better?

When UCLA came back to shock the Trojans in the 1996 game that most Bruins say put them on track for the success of the next two seasons, it was from a 38-21 deficit.

When Miami came back to beat UCLA in the Dec. 5 game that most Bruins say was the worst of their life, it was from a 38-21 deficit.

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All-Pacific 10 Conference linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, having shown progress this week in his recovery from a sprained knee, will have his usual spot in the starting lineup. . . . Freddie Mitchell, returning from a broken leg ahead of schedule, will play against Wisconsin, his first action since Sept. 19. “He wants to play, so we’re going to let him play,” Toledo said. “Not very much, though.” Toledo figures six to eight plays.


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