PASADENA, Calif. Before Fresno State coach Pat Hill sends his team out to play UCLA, he will remind the 25th-ranked Bulldogs that they weren't good enough to be Bruins.
"We've got 102 kids; not one of them got recruited by UCLA, and there's not a guy on their roster that would even take a trip to Fresno," Hill said.
UCLA has experienced a rash of injuries to key players in coach Rick Neuheisel's first season, including playing without the first two quarterbacks, the first two tailbacks and having to use a patchwork offensive line.
The struggling Bruins still can expect no sympathy from Hill.
"There's no need to feel sorry for UCLA. They've got very, very good players on that roster," he said. "I know they do. As I said, there's not one guy on that roster that would even take a visit to Fresno State.
"We've got to expect to take a great shot from them. So we're looking forward to going down to the Rose Bowl and playing a great game."
Fresno State has defeated UCLA just once in seven games, 17-9 in the 2003 Silicon Valley Bowl in San Jose in their most recent meeting. The Bulldogs (2-1) are favored to make it two in a row over the Bruins (1-2) on Saturday.
Fresno State has beaten Rutgers and Toledo on the road and lost a rugged 13-10 decision to Wisconsin in Fresno. The Bruins got off to a fine start, upsetting Tennessee in the season opener, only to lose 59-0 to BYU the school's worst loss since 1929 and 31-10 to Arizona last weekend.
So the Bruins have been outscored 90-10 in their last two games, and their offense is without a touchdown since the opener.
"We've got to find a way to increase productivity on that side of the ball, to improve our field position, keep our defense out of the game, and obviously give ourselves better chances to win games," Neuheisel said.
He knows Fresno State, the Bruins' third Top-25 opponent this season, will be a challenge.
"It's important that we understand the mentality of our opponent, that they're street-tough, the kind of team that embodies their coach," Neuheisel said. "Pat Hill has done an excellent job over the past several years, and 'On any corner at any time' is his mantra.
"We've got to match that intensity. If we can rise up and fight like that, we'll have a chance to be in the game and make it a good game. If we don't, we're going to get reminded again that we're not playing for the big prizes yet."
The Bruins' fortunes again will depend heavily on quarterback Kevin Craft, who was third on the depth chart before injuries sidelined Patrick Cowan in the spring and Ben Olson during fall camp. Craft, a JC transfer, has had one good quarter, going 12-of-14 for 139 yards in the fourth quarter as he rallied the Bruins past Tennessee.
The other 11 quarters, he's been mostly inefficient and he passed for only 81 yards against Arizona. He has thrown for just one touchdown, and has been intercepted five times.
Fresno State quarterback Tom Brandstater threw five interceptions all last season, and only one so far this year. Brandstater has passed for 672 yards and five touchdowns this season and is averaging 224 yards a game through the air.
His quarterback rating is 150.57, to Craft's 92.19.
The Bruins hope to get tailback Kahlil Bell (ankle) back against the Bulldogs, although he probably won't be 100 percent even if he is able to play. UCLA totaled just 38 yards on the ground the first two games, although they did manage 115 yards against Arizona.
The Bulldogs' Ryan Matthews has averaged 101.3 yards rushing per game this fall, about twice what the Bruins have averaged as a team.