Sept. 21, 2001
By JOHN NADEL
AP Sports Writer
PASADENA, Calif. - Quarterbacks Cory Paus and Steve Bellisari will always remember the UCLA-Ohio State game played on Sept. 11, 1999, in Columbus, just as they'll never forget what occurred exactly two years later.
For UCLA's Paus, it was a debut, and for Ohio State's Bellisari, a coming-out.
Unlike two years ago, Paus and Bellisari will be in the starting lineup when the 14th-ranked Bruins and 21st-ranked Buckeyes meet again - this time at the Rose Bowl.
The game, Saturday's only matchup of Top 25 teams, will be the first for both schools since the terrorist attacks.
"It's been awkward and kind of unreal, just to think about what's going on in the world," Paus said. "Football doesn't seem like it's as important as it was two weeks ago."
A redshirt freshman when the teams met in 1999, Paus played his first game at UCLA and was 8-of-20 for 97 yards in a 42-20 loss to the Buckeyes.
The Bruins played without 10 players - many of them starters - who were suspended following a handicapped parking scandal. Several of those will be playing Saturday.
Then a sophomore, Bellisari also came off the bench that day, but with much more success, passing for 159 yards and two touchdowns and running for another 50 yards in his first extensive action at Ohio State.
He has started every Buckeyes game since.
"That was kind of his breakout game," UCLA coach Bob Toledo recalled. "The thing about him is he can throw the ball, and he's very mobile, too."
Toledo said he doesn't believe that game will be a motivating factor for his players.
"I think Ohio State coming to the Rose Bowl is motivation enough," he said.
UCLA spokesman Marc Dellins urged fans to arrive well before kickoff since everyone is subject to search - part of increased security at every major stadium in the country.
Coolers and backpacks won't be allowed, and even the media is involved, with UCLA requiring names and credential numbers of everyone covering the game.
A crowd of more than 75,000 was expected, but that was before the attacks. Officials now believe it might be a little smaller, especially considering the game will be televised nationally by ABC-TV.
"I think it will be emotional, especially during the national anthem," Toledo said. "When we kick it off, I think you'll see some good football."
Ohio State's only game under first-year coach Jim Tressel was a 28-14 victory over visiting Akron two weeks ago.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for us to go and see how we've come along," Tressel said.
UCLA (2-0) will be playing its home opener, having beaten Alabama 20-17 and Kansas 41-17 on the road. The Bruins are favored by a touchdown.
"They're big, they're strong, they're physical," Toledo said of the Buckeyes. "They pound you. We want to find out how physical we really are."
Considering the Buckeyes have a 265-pound tight end (Darnell Sanders), a 255-pound fullback (Jamar Martin), a 230-pound tailback (Jonathan Wells), and four starting offensive linemen listed at 300 pounds or heavier, Toledo should get his wish.
Defensively, the Bruins will be challenged by Bellisari, who passed for 246 yards against Akron, and a running game led by Wells, who gained 119 yards in the opener.
UCLA's DeShaun Foster ranks fourth in the country in rushing, averaging 149.5 yards. But the Ohio State defense, led by tackle Mike Collins, linebackers Joe Cooper and Matt Wilhelm, and safety Mike Doss, figures to present a stiffer challenge than Alabama or Kansas.
Paus, who has completed 18 of 38 passes for 283 yards, believes the Buckeyes will force the Bruins to pass.
Tressel put the onus on Paus, saying: "Their ability to win the Pac-10 championship, I think, is going to be based on how they come along at the quarterback position."