By Arlie Rahn
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Upsets reigned supreme this weekend with the second- and third-place teams in the conference losing to what seemed to be preseason "gimmes" on the schedule. The UCLA Bruins were dominated by Washington State, losing 24-15, while defending Pacific 10 Conference champion Oregon fell to Stanford 28-21.
In the Pac-10 preseason media poll, the Cougars and Cardinal were picked to finish eighth and 10th, respectively.
The Bruins' high-powered offense could manage only 38 first-half yards, while their defense allowed the previously less-than-potent Cougars 239 yards.
"Well, generally speaking, Washington State just dominated the football game from start to finish. Having two weeks to prepare was a huge advantage (for them)," UCLA head coach Terry Donahue said. "We are struggling on both sides of the ball. We have to find some players who will play from start to finish and make some things happen."
The Cougars showed a successful running game against UCLA, running for 183 yards with tailback Frank Madu gaining 110.
"Everytime you looked out there Frank was running over somebody," WSU head coach Mike Price said. "Those kids worked hard and I am glad to see the kids that worked hard do good."
One other thorn in the Bruins' side was their special teams. Cougar wide receiver Jay Dumas returned a punt 72 yards to help build its 24-point halftime lead.
"Our special teams hurt us this weekend," Donahue said. "The punt return was the big play of the game. It was ironic because we spent an extra day on punt cover this week."
The game's outcome put a damper on Bruin wide receiver Kevin Jordan's moment in the sun. He passed J.J. Stokes as UCLA's career receptions leader, catching his 159th pass, 10th best on the Pac-10 career list. Jordan has made at least two receptions in 28 consecutive games and at least three in 16 straight.
"There is no way in the world I can get excited about the record, because we lost the game," Jordan said. "We have two choices now: We can hang it up or we can pick ourselves up and start over."
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The second Pac-10 juggernaut to fall was Oregon. The Ducks were stunned by a solid Stanford team that used tough defense to force three turnovers.
"I thought they did a good job and really battled us on defense," Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti said. "But the key was our mistakes. We made poor choices on throws and just were not executing."
The big play of the game was a 96-yard kickoff return by Cardinal Marlon Evans to capture the lead late in the third quarter.
"We lost the game on special teams," Bellotti said. "Their return hurt us not only in the score, but also mentally."
And while a loss to Stanford is not what the Ducks had in mind, they can take some positives from the game.
"I think our defense did a good job with the position we put them in," Bellotti said. "To have three turnovers and only allow two scores from them kept us in the ball game. Good teams learn from their mistakes and hopefully we can build off this loss."
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Oregon's loss in this weekend's game goes beyond the score. The Ducks caught the injury bug as four players went down in the contest. Strong safety Jaiya Figueras, fullback A.J. Felks, flanker Cristin McLemore and tight end Josh Wilcox were some of the big names lost in Saturday's contest.
"We lost Figueras probably for the season with a fractured ankle, with Jelk's shoulder injury probably keeping him out for a couple weeks," Bellotti said. "McLemore had his back flare up again and Wilcox's shoulder is bothering him. We will just have to rest this weekend with our off week."
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When Washington State (2-1) faces second-ranked Nebraska (4-0), it will have one thing in its corner: history. The Cougars are 3-0 against the Cornhuskers, winning all three games in Lincoln.
"I'm really looking forward to it. It's going to be a good opportunity," Cougar offensive tackle Scott Sanderson said. "We are probably going to be a 50-point underdog and that is fine. The main thing is that we are going to review film, come out and practice just like with any other team that we have to play, whether it is Montana, UCLA, or Oregon. They have everything to lose."
And while Nebraska has already made quick work of one conference team Ÿ Arizona State Ÿ some Washington State players said they still feel that they could surprise some people.
"My main focus right now is that we are going to win," defensive end Dwayne Sanders said. "We are going to come off the ball as a front-four first. We feel as a (defensive) line that if we get off the ball from the first play that we set the tempo for the linebackers and defensive backs."
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