Sept. 5, 2001
By JOHN ZENOR
AP Sports Writer
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Now UCLA finds out how it handles prosperity, and Alabama gets reacquainted with adversity.
The 17th-ranked Bruins once again opened the season by beating the No. 25 Crimson Tide, holding on for a 20-17 victory Saturday night.
Last year's meeting, a 35-24 UCLA win, put the Bruins on a high they couldn't sustain and the Tide on a low they couldn't shake.
"We're a much more experienced football team," UCLA coach Bob Toledo said. "I think we can handle this kind of success."
The Bruins didn't last year. They beat then-No. 3 Alabama and two weeks later knocked off then-No. 3 Michigan to rise to sixth in the rankings.
But a blowout loss to Oregon followed, and UCLA finished with three straight defeats.
That was nothing compared to what happened to the Tide, who wound up 3-8 and have now lost six straight games.
Quarterback Tyler Watts doesn't expect a repeat.
"Now, we have to find out what we are all about," he said after passing for 204 yards and rushing for 69. "We have (a Southeastern Conference) game next week and we have to show who we really are."
Neither offense established a clear identity Saturday.
UCLA's Deshaun Foster, a Doak Walker contender, had a 40-yard run and a 21-yarder but otherwise was kept bottled up much of the game. He finished with 24 carries for 110 yards, moving into 10th on the school's career rushing list with 2,195 yards.
"The first game we needed to come out and get a win," said Bruins fullback Ed Ieremia-Stansbury, who had a 10-yard touchdown run. "We've got to come together as a team and get better week by week."
Receiver Tab Perry, who accounted for 113 of UCLA's 123 yards through the air, said winning in a football hotbed on national television will be good for the team.
"It will get us more exposure," said Perry, who caught his first college TD pass. "It gives us a chance to show the kind of talent we have."
Watts didn't make many mistakes, but also didn't make many throws downfield other than a 58-yard TD pass to Antonio Carter in the first quarter.
Alabama coach Dennis Franchione had indicated he would play two quarterbacks, but didn't until Watts came down with cramps late.
Andrew Zow, who entered preseason practice as the No. 1 quarterback, came in and connected on three passes for 95 yards. His 71-yarder to Freddie Milons made it 20-17 with 2:13 left.
"Going into the game, it was Tyler's game," Franchione said. "I didn't want him thinking that if he made a bad play I would take him out."
The most positive sign for Alabama was Milons' play. He had four catches for 124 yards and averaged 35 yards on three returns.
The Tide, however, committed 15 penalties for minus-93 yards and lost two turnovers. UCLA, meanwhile, wasn't whistled for any significant penalties and didn't turn over the ball.
"We need to build on this loss and learn that good teams don't beat themselves," Milons said.