The Bruins won't be getting too much attention, as SC-ND is center stage. But the Bruins were the #2 story on Gameday, with a lot of talk about the Pullman curse. However, it's now pretty much Conventional Wisdom that UCLA will be 10-0 going into a "de facto Pac 10 Championship Game."
Here's Lonnie White's gameday offering, again focusing on the story of the Bruins' struggles in Pullman (and I agree that this really is the story of the week). Another huge storyline is the Bruins' recent unfortunate tradition of letting down against inferior competition. The Bruins can't fall into that trap:
Coach Karl Dorrell did not have to raise his voice to remind his players to stay focused for Washington State, which has defeated UCLA in their last four meetings, and in seven of the last nine.
[snip, according to Dorrell,]
"This is our first airplane trip and this is Game 6 of the season. We've explained the whole process of getting there and getting back.... It's all about staying focused."
In 2003, the last time UCLA played at Martin Stadium, Washington State jumped on top of the Bruins early, scoring 14 points within the first seven minutes of the game in a 31-13 victory.
A year ago, the Cougars won, 31-29, in what many UCLA players considered their worst defeat of the season. The Bruins would have become bowl eligible with a victory but instead played poorly in front of Holiday Bowl representatives at the Rose Bowl.
White also picks up on the storyline of Cougars star running back Jerome Harrision and his workmanlike performance last year leading the Cougars to victory on our home turf. If the sieve-like Bruins running defense can shut down Harrison, this would be a huge confidence builder.
White also has a story on the noise in Pullman, explaining the lengths to which teams go in order to simulate the hostile road atmosphere. This is the Bruins first true road game, as Qualcomm had a heavy Bruin presence, and it was a short trip down the Golden State Freeway.
Finally, Kuwada focuses on the travel aspect as well:
Washington State is not the most favored of destinations in the Pac-10, and Martin Stadium is not the easiest place to play for a visiting team. No matter where the trip starts, the travel to this town is not easy. The weather can be a factor at this time of year, particularly for teams from Southern California.
The fans are close to the sidelines and can be unruly -- extra security measures have been put in place this week to try to prevent fans from heckling opposing players on the long walk from the visiting locker room to the stadium.
Hopefully, the Bruins will be able to overcome the distractions and focus on stopping Harrison and the rest of the Cougs. That in itself is no small task, especially since the Cougs have had the Bruins' number for so long. Basically, the Bruins have to keep proving their toughness and character every game, or the MSM, and pretty much everyone esle, quite frankly, will be saying it's the same old soft Bruins again, unable to handle success or beat an inferior team on the road.
The Bruins must win this game.