Bruins face road challenge

first_imgPULLMAN, Wash. — Logistically, getting to Washington State is easily the worst endeavor in the Pacific-10 Conference. On game day, rowdy fans, a loud stadium and a poor locker-room situation make it difficult for visiting teams. “It’s a rowdy crowd, a little town. Everything about it is college football,” UCLA senior quarterback Drew Olson said. “It’s what it’s supposed to be like. It’s a good challenge. I love playing on the road. I love road trips. I love getting on a plane. I love flying to other places and playing, seeing other schools, and playing at other schools and seeing their fans. There’s a lot of motivation for us in this game.” UCLA hasn’t defeated the Cougars since 1998, and the current collection of seniors is 0-3 against WSU. It is UCLA’s first trip outside of Southern California, and early in the week Bruins coach Karl Dorrell talked about the difficulty in traveling here. But by week’s end, he downplayed the effect travel has on the game. “I don’t think this is any bigger trip than any other away game,” Dorrell said. “I think sometimes we try to portray it as (if) you’re going to the Sahara Desert to play 16,000 miles away, and how are you going to deal with the 130-degree heat? It’s just a football game. We know we have to go up there with an expectation to win the game, playing in typical on-the-road conditions.” Still, players and coaches especially coaches are creatures of habit, and there is nothing normal about this trip. UCLA talked all week about minimizing those distractions. Today, the 12th-ranked Bruins will find out if it worked as they play their first true road game against the Cougars at cozy Martin Stadium. And to cap it off, UCLA (5-0, 2-0 Pac-10) hasn’t won at WSU (3-2, 0-2) since 1993, and has lost the past four overall against the Cougars. center_img The airport in Pullman is too small to land charter flights that teams use, so after a 2 ½-hour flight from LAX to Spokane, Wash., a 2 ½-hour bus ride south ensues. “(The drive) is going through nothing but hills,” UCLA tailback Maurice Drew said. “It’s one of the worst drives I’ve been on, but when you don’t worry about that and just concentrate on what you have to do, you’ll be all right.” Once there, the visitors are usually treated with hostility, as the current UCLA juniors and seniors learned in 2003. The locker rooms are a few hundred yards away from the stadium, and taunts by Wazzu fans usually accompany the visitors along the path. Several UCLA players complained about fans throwing stuff at them on the last trip, and strong safety Jarrad Page said racial remarks were also made. To top if off, a lapse in security allowed a fan to enter UCLA’s locker room after the 31-13 defeat two years ago. The fan taunted the Bruins before being ushered out. “A lot of people were upset, but you’ve got to understand when we go up there and you have a hostile environment like that, things are going to happen,” Drew said. Then there were the on-field debacles during UCLA’s last visit, which included 14 turnovers between the two teams. UCLA’s then-anemic offense gained possession inside WSU’s 25-yard line three times and didn’t score a touchdown. Later in the game, quarterback Matt Moore was pulled after an interception. Moore and receiver Ryan Smith then got into a heated exchange on the sideline and had to be pulled apart by teammates. It was the last pass Moore threw at UCLA. He was replaced by Olson, who is making his 21st consecutive start. “They come out and play us tough, so we know what to expect,” Page said. “But we know also what we’ve done this year, and we know as long as we take care of our business, we’ll be all right.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img