Sept. 21, 2001
Attempting to refocus on football following last week's terrorist attacks, UCLA returns to the Rose Bowl on Saturday for a key non-conference matchup with Ohio State.
"It was a long, tough week," Bruins coach Bob Toledo said. "It's time to move on, go on with your life, never forgetting what happened."
UCLA (2-0) had its game against Arizona State over the weekend postponed until Dec. 1. Ohio State (1-0) was to entertain San Diego State, and that game was postponed until Oct. 20.
The 14th-ranked Bruins were impressive in their first two games of the season, making a concerted attempt to run the ball while playing a more physical brand of football than last season.
In beating Alabama 20-17 and Kansas 41-17, the Bruins have averaged 230.0 yards rushing - tops in the Pac-10 - and are fourth in rushing defense at 122.5 yards per game.
Tailback DeShaun Foster is averaging 5.8 yards per carry, almost two yards more than last season, and ranks fourth in the country in rushing with a 149.5-yard average.
"We've been running the ball good, we haven't had to open it up to score points," said quarterback Cory Paus, who has completed 18-of-38 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns without being intercepted. "Hopefully, we won't have to."
Paus believes the Bruins will be ready to play despite the tremendous feelings of sadness and loss that have overwhelmed the country.
"I'm confident we'll be able to focus, concentrate on football when it's time to concentrate on football," he said. "I'm excited to get back to playing, continue to improve as a team."
A fourth-year junior, Paus played the first game of his career against Ohio State two years ago at Columbus. The Bruins lost that game 42-20 in the most recent meeting between the schools.
The 21st-ranked Buckeyes, playing under first-year coach Jim Tressel, will be trying to give the Big Ten its first victory of the season against a ranked opponent.
The Big Ten is 0-4 versus ranked teams this year and has lost 12 of its last 14 games against ranked non-conference foes. UCLA, however, has won 11 of 15 games against ranked opponents dating back to 1997.
Ohio State senior Jonathan Wells rushed for 119 yards and scored twice but the Buckeyes, favored by four touchdowns, were less than impressive in a 28-14 victory over Akron on Sept. 8.
"We're not perfect," said Tressel, hired to replace the fired John Cooper after spending the last 15 years at Youngstown State. "I knew that coming in."
Ohio State and UCLA are meeting for the eighth time in regular-season play and the ninth time overall. The Buckeyes hold a slight 4-3-1 edge in the series.