Nightmare scenario: an 0-5 October for UCLA, courtesy of Oregon State
UCLA’s football program is closing in on history, though not the kind anyone involved in the program would want to write home about. On a positive note, however, the Bruins have not lost to Oregon State at Corvallis since 1999. Times staff writer Chris Foster examines the game’s key matchups and issues:
October starts with a big “O” and, for the Bruins, could end with one as well.
This is the 34th time UCLA has played five football games in one month. Only once -- in 1992 -- did they lose all five on the field. (They forfeited their way to another 0-5 month.)
A loss today and UCLA will need every finger -- plus the thumb -- to count their October losses on one hand.
A scary thought on a scary day for Bruins fans.
Oregon State tailback Jacquizz Rodgers is the nation’s 10th-leading rusher, averaging 115.7 yards a game.
How good is he?
Beavers Coach Mike Riley was asked about Rodgers as a Heisman Trophy candidate. “I don’t know what to say about that, except he’s one of the very best players in the country,” he said.
Just calling Rodgers one of the best in the Pacific 10 Conference should be enough to send a shudder through the Bruins, who have already been run over by, in order: Stanford’s Toby Gerhart, 134 yards; Oregon’s LaMichael James, 152 yards; and California’s Shane Vereen, 158 yards, and Jahvid Best, 102 yards.
Might as well let Chuck Bullough, UCLA’s defensive coordinator, select the all-conference running backs.
Rodgers rushed for 144 yards against UCLA last season.
They can fly
The “other” Rodgers could also be a problem for the Bruins.
Wide receiver James Rodgers, Jacquizz’s older brother, is a big reason Oregon State quarterback Sean Canfield is second among Pac-10 passers.
Rodgers leads the conference with averages of 7.14 receptions and 85.7 yards a game.
Rodgers also has 178 yards rushing -- mostly on fly sweeps.
UCLA allowed Arizona receivers to rush for 98 yards last week, mostly on, yup, fly sweeps.
With a fifth consecutive loss, UCLA can match its worst-ever start in conference play.
The Bruins’ longest conference losing streak is seven games -- in 1928-29.
UCLA’s offense has scored two touchdowns in the last three games. To shake things up today, the Bruins will use two quarterbacks. Kevin Prince will start, but Coach Rick Neuheisel has promised to also play Richard Brehaut in the first half.
“It’s not where Kevin is so far ahead or dominant that it precludes the other from getting a chance,” Neuheisel said. “We’re developing not only the quarterback position, but our program.”
This would seem to be a good game to do it. Oregon State ranks No. 111 out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in pass defense and is No. 118 in quarterback sacks.
Charge the defibrillator
UCLA has not played in a Rose Bowl game since the 1998 season, and is assured it won’t happen this season either, an 11-year drought that is the longest in the program’s history.
Neuheisel vowed the Bruins would “run the ball or die trying.” Better call in the paramedics -- UCLA’s rushing offense is next to last in the conference.
Tailback Johnathan Franklin has done a solid job, even on a sprained ankle. But the rest of the Bruins’ tailbacks have combined for 102 yards in the last four games.
UCLA’s struggles have allowed two individuals to shine, though. Kicker Kai Forbath leads the nation with 19 field goals and punter Jeff Locke is second in the nation with an average of 46.5 yards.