Sept. 15, 2000
PASADENA, Calif. - One No. 3 down, another on the horizon for the UCLA Bruins.
"That's a good number for us, I guess," UCLA quarterback Ryan McCann said. "Let's hope."
The 14th-ranked Bruins, who moved into the Top 25 by opening the season with a 35-24 victory over then-No. 3 Alabama, face current No. 3 Michigan at the Rose Bowl on Saturday. A crowd of over 80,000 is expected.
"This is another big game for us in our house," UCLA coach Bob Toledo said. "If we're going to get back to where we were a couple of years ago, this is a team we have to beat."
The Bruins followed up a pair of 10-2 seasons by falling to 4-7 last season. Michigan, meanwhile, has been one of college football's top programs for years, going 142-37-5 since 1985.
Both teams have started the year winning twice at home with backups playing quarterback because of injuries to the first-stringers, powerful running games, and bruising defensive efforts.
John Navarre, a redshirt freshman, is calling signals for Michigan because Drew Henson broke his right foot last month.
McCann, a third-year sophomore, is playing for UCLA because Cory Paus separated his throwing shoulder on the first play of the win over Alabama, and is at least two weeks from returning.
Navarre leads the nation in passing efficiency, having completed 25 of 34 passes for 394 yards and seven touchdowns with no interceptions in one-sided wins over Bowling Green and Rice.
Now, the Wolverines will face a tougher, faster opponent in their first road game.
"What he's going to face differently, he's going to face noise," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "You know when you go on the road, you're tested in a different way."
Michigan's Anthony Thomas, running behind a veteran line led by three fifth-year seniors, has gained 239 yards on 37 carries. Thomas has scored at least one touchdown in 10 straight games, and rushed for 100 yards in seven of his last eight.
UCLA's DeShaun Foster has rushed for 327 yards on 71 carries and scored five touchdowns behind an offensive line which returned intact from last season.
"I think he's as good a back as there is in the country," Carr said of Foster.
"They both should be All-Americans," Toledo said of Thomas and Foster.
A much-improved UCLA defense has allowed an average of 270.0 yards to rank 26th in the country. Michigan, meanwhile, has given up 271.0 yards per game.
UCLA should be helped by the return of wide receiver Brian Poli-Dixon and defensive lineman Ken Kocher. Both missed the Fresno State game - Poli-Dixon because of tightness in his hamstrings, and Kocher due to a sprained ankle.
Toledo said Michigan is very similar to Alabama in that the Wolverines employ several different formations and have a balanced offense. He also said from what he's seen on film, Navarre has only been hit once while trying to pass.
"We're going to try and be aggressive, get eight or nine guys up front at times, do what they're going to do," Toledo said. "Our defensive front seven is the best since I've been here."
Carr wouldn't disagree.
"We're looking at a defense and a UCLA team that has very good team speed," he said. "They're very athletic, and have done a tremendous job against the rush."
The game is the last non-conference contest for both teams - UCLA opens its Pac-10 schedule at Oregon on Sept. 23, while Michigan plays at No. 19 Illinois in its Big Ten opener the same day.
By JOHN NADEL
AP Sports Writer