Bruins-Cougars: UCLA Handles Their Business In The Palouse, 43-7

Derek HartCorrespondent INovember 16, 2009

PASADENA, CA - SEPTEMBER 19:  Damien Thigpen #25 of the UCLA Bruins returns with the ball against the Kansas State Wildcats at the Rose Bowl on September 19, 2009 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Well, so much for the Washington State Cougars playing above their heads.

So much for the 32 degree weather in Pullman, WA getting to the UCLA Bruins.

And so much for Rick Neuheisel's bunch playing down to the Cougars' level.

The Bruins handled things very nicely, going up to the Palouse and taking care of Washington State, 43-7, in a game that was well in hand virtually from the start.

So much so that they were able to do something they've seldom been able to do: Clear their bench in the fourth quarter and give reserves such as quarterback Nick Crissman, a true freshman, playing time.

It was, as Neuheisel said, "A luxury that we don't overlook."

Kevin Prince had another solid performance in completing 27 of 40 passes for 314 yards and a touchdown, plus a 68-yard run for a score in the second quarter.

Fullback Chane "The Train" Moline bulled his way to three rushing touchdowns from short distance, as well as catch seven passes for 60 yards, and Taylor Embree had six catches for 73 yards and a TD.

The biggest motivation for WSU was that being the downtrodden team that they are, they had nothing to lose.

Apparently the Cougars were unaware of that, as Marshall Lobbestael threw three interceptions before being pulled, one to Rahim Moore to reclaim his NCAA-leading total to nine. Linebacker Akeem Ayers added two picks of his own.

UCLA picked a great time to play Washington State, as they collected a grand total of 529 yards on 26 first downs. The Bruin defense finally held an opposing runner to under 100 yards as Dwight Tardy gained a paltry 41, while Wazzu was only able to earn seven first downs.

You can't help but feel sorry for a team like Washington State, whose overall record fell to 1-9 while remaining winless in the Pac-10 Conference at 0-7; if there was a collegiate version of the Detroit Lions, this team would be it.

It is clear that if that program is to see better days, coach Paul Wulff will need to do some major recruiting.

As for the Bruins (5-5, 2-5 in the Pac-10), it was good to see them get a blowout win (for once) and stay on track for a post season bowl. They will look to continue their improved play against Arizona State in their last home game on Nov. 21.

Call me crazy or hopelessly naive, but depending on how UCLA performs against the Sun Devils, I think that maybe, just maybe, they have a shot against USC, who gave up the most points ever in their most recent game and have lost two out of their last three contests by a huge margin, on Nov. 28.

But first, they must focus on Arizona State, concentrate on beating them and getting that sixth win and becoming bowl eligible.

The way the Bruins are currently playing, I am confident that they will get the job done and handle the Sun Devils before their crosstown clash.