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No. 18 Bruins Prepare For Unpredictable Stanford

Sept. 24, 1999

STANFORD, Calif. - UCLA has no idea what to expect from Stanford, a team that has exhibited a split personality this season. In fact, the only thing the Bruins know is that they'll be ridiculed by the Cardinal band.

Stanford began the season with a 69-17 loss at Texas, then bounced back to beat Washington State 54-17 and rout heavily favored Arizona 50-22.

While No. 18 UCLA will be opening its Pac-10 schedule Saturday, the Cardinal (2-1) will be trying to go 3-0 in conference play for the first time in 28 years.

"I think we're probably even more of a mystery now because of the Texas game," Stanford defensive coordinator Kent Baer said. "But please don't judge us on that game, because that was not us."

Stanford coach Tyrone Willingham doesn't care how confounding his team may seem to outsiders, as long as it continues its success in Pac-10 play. The Cardinal begin the weekend as the only team with a conference victory this season.

"If we win the ballgame, I'm perfectly happy being an enigma," Willingham said.

UCLA (2-1), playing its first conference game after wins over Boise State and Fresno State and a loss at Ohio State, also is surrounded by a bit of mystery because of several injuries.

The two-time defending conference champions are missing starting quarterback Cory Paus, a redshirt freshman who badly bruised his ribs last week when he fell on the football while being sacked by Fresno State's Frank Battle.

He will be replaced by Drew Bennett, a junior who lost his starting job to Paus earlier this season. Bennett had two second-half touchdowns to lead the Bruins to victory over Fresno State.

UCLA, which has a 15-game conference winning streak, will have split end Danny Farmer back for the contest. Farmer, who missed two of UCLA's three games with a sprained left ankle, needs 46 yards receiving to pass the school record of 2,548 set by Kevin Jordan from 1992-95.

"We do have some talented reserves, but you can't replace a Danny Farmer," UCLA coach Bob Toledo said. "He makes a lot of key plays. When you don't have him, it definitely affects you. It will be good to have him back in a limited capacity."

Toledo said cornerback Jason Bell will miss his second straight game because of pain in his heel, on which he had offseason surgery, but that defensive end Pete Holland should return after missing a game with back problems.

UCLA has won the last three times it visited Stanford Stadium, and the Cardinal face a historical roadblock - they have not won their first three conference games since the league became the Pac-10 in 1978.

In fact, the last time Stanford was 3-0 in conference play was when the school - then nicknamed the Indians - won its first three Pac-8 games in 1971 en route to a conference title and a Rose Bowl appearance.

"We have to view this game as a championship game because it could turn out to be just that at the end of the season," said Stanford quarterback Todd Husak, who has passed for 784 yards and five touchdowns this season. "Guys are confident, they're not doubting themselves. They might have been after the Texas game."

UCLA will be playing its second game since the return of 10 players suspended for the opening two contests for wrongfully obtaining and displaying disabled parking placards. Though Toledo said the matter is closed, he expects Stanford's marching band to have a field day with the controversy.

"That's behind us," Toledo said, "except for the fact that the Stanford band will probably be wearing placards on their heads."

AP Sports Writer

UCLA Health Sponsor - Event Information
Saturday, Sep 03 - 12:30 PM PST
at Texas A&M
College Station, TX
Saturday, Sep 10 - 5:00 PM PST
vs. UNLV
Pasadena, CA
Saturday, Sep 17 - TBA PST
at Brigham Young
Provo, UT
Saturday, Sep 24 - TBA PST
vs. Stanford
Pasadena, CA