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Oregon Victory Alters Mentality

Times Staff Writer

Monday was the last day for the Bruins to savor what might have been their biggest triumph of the season so far, and they return to practice today to begin preparations for another challenge: that against top-ranked USC on Dec. 4.

It’s too early to put Saturday’s 34-26 road victory against Oregon totally behind them. It was their most complete effort of the season. It gave them a 6-4 overall record, made them bowl eligible and spared them having to endure another losing campaign.

Quarterback Drew Olson called it “by far the biggest game in the past two seasons” and said it should prove that this team is different from the one that lost the last five games of 2003.

“We have a lot of fight and a lot of character and pride, and we’re not going to give up,” Olson said.

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The Bruins played as though they had all of those qualities against Oregon but seemed to possess few of them a week earlier in a 31-29 home loss to less formidable Washington State.

Which raises the question: Which team will show in the regular-season finale against the Trojans?

Coach Karl Dorrell said his players would be prepared both mentally and physically, and predicted “a great game.”

If nothing else, some of the veteran players added, they won’t go into it half expecting to lose, as was the case last year when they were drilled, 47-22.

But they’re being cautious about what they say, not wanting to give the Trojans more of an edge than they already have.

“To be honest, I’m going to have to give them a little respect,” said wide receiver Junior Taylor. “They’re the No. 1 team. They’ve won like 19 straight games. We’ve got to play a little bit better.

“But for the most part, if the defense plays like it did [against Oregon] and the offense plays like we played, we’re going to have a great chance in that game.”


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