With a 6-4 record heading into Saturday’s showdown against No. 1-ranked USC at the Rose Bowl, UCLA knows it is going to play in a bowl game, win or lose.
The Bruins just don’t know which one.
If they upset the Trojans, the Bruins would move into a third-place tie in the Pacific 10 Conference with a 5-3 record. UCLA could then end up in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego on Dec. 30 if California reached a bowl championship series game with USC being the conference representative in the Rose Bowl.
A Trojan victory probably would send the Bruins to the Insight Bowl in Phoenix on Dec. 28 for a matchup against Notre Dame, which lost to USC, 41-10, Saturday. But if UCLA loses and Cal doesn’t reach the Rose Bowl, the Bruins would be headed to the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 23 or the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31 at El Paso.
“We won’t necessarily be happy unless we have a good outcome, which we’re anticipating,” said Coach Karl Dorrell, whose team has not played since winning at Oregon on Nov. 13.
Dorrell said the long layoff “is going to help us, with our health.... We anticipate everybody being ready and able to go[but] there’s always concern on whether you’re ruining the rhythm of your season.”
The Bruins should be prepared for the Trojans not just because of their three weeks off. UCLA has three times faced opponents coming off a loss to USC a week earlier. Quarterback Drew Olson said earlier this season that he almost knew the Trojan offense as well as UCLA’s because he watched so much tape of USC games.
“They are a good football team, they are going to do what they do,” Dorrell said. “You don’t fit in 10 weeks of stuff you do offensively and defensively and change it for one particular game.
“We are still going to be who we are. We’re just working on getting better on the things that we do.”
Injured players expected to practice this week include running back Maurice Drew (ankle), tight end Marcedes Lewis (back), safety Jarrad Page (hamstring) and linebacker Ben Lorier (knee). Safety Chris Horton (foot), running back Derrick Williams (concussion) and defensive end Kevin Harbour (knee) also could be cleared by doctors to participate in full practice this week.
Saturday’s game is a sellout and fans are encouraged to catch free shuttles from the Gold Line train service station or Parsons Technology Building. The cost for parking at Parsons is $5. The Rose Bowl parking lot opens at 10:30 a.m.