November 1, 2005

Unbeaten Bruins keep it exciting



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LOS ANGELES - Karl Dorrell's heart is holding up just fine, thank you.

The UCLA coach is growing accustomed to those late comebacks by the barely unbeaten Bruins.

"There have been three or four this year that have been heart-stopping. I'm glad I run at lunch time, glad I'm in good physical condition," Dorrell said Monday.

"This team is exciting to watch. This team doesn't panic, and I don't panic."

It seems the seventh-ranked Bruins keep raising their bar with comebacks.

Last weekend was their most dramatic so far. They made up a 21-point deficit at Stanford in the final eight minutes of regulation, then won 30-27 in overtime.

UCLA trailed Washington by 10 in the fourth quarter on Oct. 1 and won 21-17. The following week, the Bruins were down 12 against California and pulled out a 47-40 victory. The next time out, they spotted Washington State 17 points heading into the fourth quarter and won 44-41 in overtime.

Their only "routine" victory over the past five games was a 52-28 rout of Oregon State.

Defensive end Justin Hickman, asked what he remembered about the comeback against Cal, shook his head and said, "They kind of all run together."

The Bruins (8-0, 5-0 Pac-10) face Arizona (2-6, 1-4) in Tucson on Saturday.

"Another week to get ourselves better, and boy, do we need to. This week, we want to have a normal game if we can," Dorrell said. "But if not, we'll take the heroic wins, too."

Part of the reason the Bruins have fallen behind, Dorrell said, has to do with the opposition.

"At this point in the season, you're 8-0, you're ranked in the top 10 and there are teams that are playing their best to knock you off," said Dorrell, who had a 12-13 record in his two previous years at UCLA.

"That's part of the equation as well, so let's not underestimate that. I've been in that position the last two years - trying to knock off a team that's perceived as better than we are.

"So we're getting everyone's best effort, and we've got to play with our best effort."

Hickman said, "Moving up in the ranks, people are giving us their best shot and they know what we're about, so I don't think there's any added pressure."

UCLA jumped a notch to No. 5 in this week's Bowl Championship Series standings.

"Given the nature of our last game, that's the least of our concerns. We have enough to fix.," he said "We don't feel good about how we played. We were fortunate that we won the football game, we're excited about that.

"We've proved that we can win tough games in the final stretch, but we have other things we're concerned with, like playing a solid 60 minutes."

For more coverage of the UCLA Bruins, check out BruinBlitz.com.



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