Conference record is still a bright spot

Times Staff Writer

The echo from “. . . wake up the echoes . . .” was still bouncing through the corridors at the Rose Bowl on Saturday night, but UCLA’s football team was already crafting its silver-lining response to the 20-6 loss to Notre Dame.

While the Fighting Irish were humming a merry tune, singing their fight song as part of their postgame tradition after a victory, the Bruins were spinning their response.

“The thought we have to have, after losing this game, is this was a nonconference game,” cornerback Rodney Van said. “The only thing we can look forward to is our 3-0 Pac-10 record and go forth with that.”


Go forth the Bruins will, with a 4-2 overall record, returning to the safety of the Pacific 10 Conference, where they are tied with Arizona State for first place. Behind them are three rougher-than-anticipated nonconference games.

Utah walloped UCLA, 44-6, Notre Dame stuck the Bruins with another embarrassing loss and Brigham Young dominated the second half, nearly taking the lead before losing, 27-17. In the last 10 quarters against non-Pac-10 teams, the Bruins have been outscored, 78-19, by teams with a combined record of 7-10.

But, “We’re still in a pretty good position in conference,” Coach Karl Dorrell said after Saturday’s loss. “That’s how we have to look at things.”

Looks could turn out to be deceiving. The Bruins are mostly done with the easy part of Pac-10 play -- though, unlike USC, they can boast about beating Stanford.

Ahead on the schedule: No. 2 California (Oct. 20), No. 14 Arizona State (Nov. 10), No. 9 Oregon (Nov. 24) and No. 10 USC (Dec. 1). All but the USC game are at the Rose Bowl.

UCLA’s road games are to difficult spots, Pullman, Wash. (Washington State) and Tucson (Arizona).

“We have to get past this loss and find a way to get better and to be a competitive contender in our conference,” Dorrell said. “And that’s all we have to look forward to.”

He also said, “We’re going to have to come back from this bye week and really look at and evaluate where we are as a football team.”

UCLA will practice at 6 a.m. today, Wednesday and Thursday, though it has nothing to do with sneaking onto campus under the cover of darkness after last weekend.

Bruins officials said that morning practices are preferred during an open-date week and that players have morning classes to attend.

UCLA’s game against California will begin at 12:30 p.m. and will be televised by Channel 7. . . . Khalil Bell’s 64 yards rushing against Notre Dame gave him a team-high 604 for the season, 55 more than he gained in his two previous season combined. . . . Kai Forbath, who has 54 points, seems on his way to leading the Bruins in scoring. It would be the fourth time in the last five seasons that a kicker has led the Bruins in scoring.