AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.We didn’t think so. But we thought we’d offer him a chance to try. Ask Cal’s Jeff Tedford what’s going on in the Pac-10 and elsewhere, and he shrugs and says, “This conference, there’s so much parity, anything can happen. You can throw rankings out the door.” Certainly, it isn’t safe to assume anything about who will be playing in BCS bowl games come January. Not when the dwindling group of undefeateds is Ohio State and a handful of poseurs. It now is clear that one-defeat teams with any sort of pedigree (LSU, USC, Oklahoma, Oregon, etc.) can resume aspiring to a national championship. And in another week or two, as the upsets pile up, some of the big-name two-defeat teams might find themselves revived as BCS contenders as well. Florida already is there, Texas is closing, Alabama suddenly has life and (gulp) UCLA should be back in the AP Top 25 today. Feel free to nominate UCLA’s Bruins as poster kids for the thoroughly freakish 2007 college football season. UCLA is the program that contrived to hand Notre Dame its only victory. It also was the Bruins who were annihilated, 44-6, by a Utah team that later lost, 27-0, to UNLV. Nonetheless, UCLA now is 5-2, tied with Arizona State atop the Pac-10 standings at 4-0 and on Saturday defeated 10th-ranked Cal, 30-21 – pretty much knocking out of Bowl Championship Series consideration a team that was 12 yards from being ranked No. 1 in the nation, eight days ago. Ask Karl Dorrell, oft-embattled UCLA coach, to reconcile his team’s bizarre route to 5-2, and he says, “You don’t really reconcile that at all.” UCLA defensive end Bruce Davis already has put 10-and-2 together and come up with a shot at a big game. “We’re still in position to do something,” he said. “Some teams ahead of us are going to go down. It’s already happening. There is a long stretch out there still to finish our season. Anything can happen. “Who knows, you might still see us in the national championship.” You might be tempted to laugh (UCLA? The team that lost to Notre Dame?), but in 2007 … just about everyone who isn’t the Irish is still alive. What has to be encouraging to UCLA fans, or at least those who still believe their program can amount to something under Dorrell’s leadership, is that the Bruins showed spunk across the football spectrum Saturday, before their latest big (83,494) Rose Bowl crowd. Yes, the defense played well. It pretty much always does, setting aside that inexplicable Saturday in Salt Lake City. But the kicking game also was effective, and the offense showed signs of life as quarterback Patrick Cowan returned from his latest injury to make only his second appearance this season. Cowan was a poised 18-for-27 passing for 161 yards, a touchdown and no turnovers. And, again, he seemed to provide intangibles of leadership and enthusiasm that the more gifted Ben Olson doesn’t bring to the field. Kahlil Bell pounded out 142 rushing yards on 22 carries, and receiver Brandon Breazell was as dangerous as Cal’s No. 1, putative Heisman candidate DeSean Jackson. Breazell caught four passes for 68 yards, ran for 21 on three end-arounds and threw a 29-yard TD pass. Even Dorrell’s maddening propensity for conservative/timid play-calling didn’t hurt his team. Though many fans booed his decision to punt on fourth-and-1 at the Cal 38, trailing, 21-20, late in the third quarter. And even more booed when Aaron Perez’s punt traveled into the end zone for a touchback. Dorrell also seemed to be positioning himself for some vigorous second-guessing when, as the clock wound down, he went safety-first inside the Cal 15, eschewing a push for the end zone and settling for a 27-yard Kai Forbath field goal to make it 23-21 with 3:08 to play. Many inside the Arroyo Seco were certain Cal would march down for a game-winning field goal. But up stepped UCLA’s defense in the person of Alterraun Verner, who jumped a Jackson route, intercepted Nate Longshore and went 76 yards for the clinching touchdown. And just as fast as you could say, “What the Sam Hill is going on around here?” the Bruins had revived those rosy preseason scenarios that have them home for most of the conference’s best teams (Arizona State and Oregon still to come), and playing for the Rose Bowl at USC on Dec. 1. Of course, they first have to beat 2-5 Washington State Saturday, and we have learned not to assume anything about anyone. Especially these Bruins. [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!