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Huskies, Bruins Meet In Pac-10 Showdown

Oct. 12, 2001

AP Sports Writer

PASADENA, Calif. - UCLA tailback DeShaun Foster knows one way to keep Washington from making another of its patented fourth-quarter comebacks.

"I'd prefer to have a big lead," he said.

That might do it, although the way the Huskies have rallied for victories since Rick Neuheisel became their coach in 1999, no lead seems safe.

No. 10 Washington brings a 12-game winning streak and a lot of confidence because of its penchant for strong finishes into Saturday's Pac-10 showdown against the seventh-ranked Bruins.

A crowd of 70,000 is expected at the Rose Bowl.

"They don't ever give up," said Foster, the country's 10th-leading rusher with a 128-yard average.

Seldom has UCLA managed a complete game defensively since offensive-minded Bob Toledo became coach in 1996, especially last season, when the Bruins allowed a school-record 368 points thanks in part to a glut of injuries on the defensive side.

It's a different story this season under first-year defensive coordinator Phil Snow - the defense has stayed healthy and, for the most part, stopped the opposition.

"It's a great team feeling right now, it's great to see the offense congratulate the defense," said Toledo, whose team has scored 112 points while allowing only 47. "Our defense is as good as anybody's right now."

The Bruins, who beat No. 21 Ohio State 13-6 and Oregon State 38-7 in their last two games, rank sixth nationally in scoring defense with an 11.8-point average, and the first-team defense hasn't allowed a touchdown in 10 quarters.

"I think it's a case of them being healthy," Neuheisel said. "A year ago, we played them without any (healthy) guys on the defensive front."

The Huskies came from behind - again - but this time in the third quarter to beat the Bruins 35-28 in Seattle 11 months ago.

While the Bruins are in good health, the same can't be said for the Huskies.

Jerramy Stevens, one of the nation's best tight ends, broke his left foot against Idaho on Sept. 22, and won't return until next month.

The Huskies are also without linebacker Kai Ellis and tailback Braxton Clemen, and will likely play against UCLA with a first-time starter at quarterback in Taylor Barton, who passed for 197 yards and two touchdowns in relief of Cody Pickett in last weekend's 27-24 win over Southern California.

Pickett separated his right shoulder and is unlikely to play against UCLA except as a holder for kicker John Anderson.

Perhaps the absence of their starting quarterback best explains why the Huskies (4-0, 2-0 Pac-10) are 11{-point underdogs to the Bruins (4-0, 1-0) despite their lengthy winning streak.

Neuheisel said he expects the UCLA defense to put a lot of pressure on Barton.

"Our plan has to be to run the football," Neuheisel said. "We can't put all the pressure on our quarterback. I anticipate a smash-mouth football game, and we've got to be able to go toe-to-toe with them.

"We've got to hang in there and hopefully get to the fourth quarter, where we've been pretty successful."

The Huskies have outscored the opposition 74-26 after halftime this season, including 53-20 in the final period, when they've rallied for three wins.

In winning 11 of 12 games last season, the Huskies outscored opponents 229-142 in the second half, including 166-67 in the fourth quarter, when they came from behind to win five times. And they rallied for three wins in the fourth quarter two years ago.

Anderson, whose 32-yard field goal as time expired lifted the Huskies past USC, said he was excited about returning to the Rose Bowl, where his team capped the 2000 season by beating Purdue 34-24 on New Year's Day.

"We have a lot of guys who have been in big games," he said. "We're kind of used to it now. We know how to prepare, we know what it takes to win."

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