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Updated: Saturday, December 7, 2002 11:37 AM EST
NCAA FOOTBALL PREVIEW
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No. 7 Washington St (9-2) at Ucla (7-4)
WASHINGTON ST. COUGARS
Washington St. Cougars
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UCLA BRUINS
UCLA Bruins
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PASADENA, California (Ticker) -- Southern California fans must swallow their pride, travel to the Rose Bowl and root hard for archrival UCLA.

The Bruins can crown the Trojans Pac-10 Conference champions and make things a whole lot cleaner in the Bowl Championship Series if they defeat seventh-ranked Washington State on Saturday in the regular season finale for both teams.

Washington State (9-2, 6-1 Pac-10) missed a chance to wrap up just its second Pac-10 title and first since 1997 when it was stunned by Washington, 29-26, in overtime on November 23.

The defeat left a door open for Southern California, which is 7-1 in conference play and would edge out the Cougars for a date in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day should UCLA win.

Washington State is likely headed for the Holiday Bowl should it lose Saturday.

Southern California made its case for an at-large BCS berth with a 44-13 dismantling of Notre Dame on Saturday, but the Trojans could still be the odd-team out when the invitations are made this Sunday.

An injury to Washington State quarterback Jason Gesser could help the Trojans' chances. Gesser suffered a high ankle sprain, a bruised knee and a pulled calf in the Apple Cup and was on crutches until late last week.

Gesser is listed as questionable and in either case will share duties with backup Matt Kegel, who wilted against the Huskies. Kegel threw a costly interception that set up the game-winning field goal at the end of regulation and was credited with a costly fumble that ended the game in overtime.

The normally efficent Cougars also were penalized 10 times for 69 yards against the Huskies.

UCLA has had an extra week to pick up the pieces from 52-21 loss to USC on November 23. The Bruins turned the ball over five times and had a pair of early mistakes to fall behind 21-0 after one quarter. UCLA had just 14 turnovers in the first 10 games.

UCLA used three freshman quarterbacks against the Trojans, including Drew Olson, who completed 8-of-17 passes for 121 yards.

Freshman Tyler Ebell rushed for 100 yards or more in six straight games games before being held to 56 yards by the Trojans.

UCLA leads the series, 34-13-1, but the Cougars won a 20-14 contest last season in Pullman.


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