Sun Devils, Bruins both trying to keep slim bowl hopes alive

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TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- When UCLA and Arizona State meet tonight in Tempe, the winner will stay in the hunt for a minor bowl berth.

The loser will finish up the regular season against its arch rival and then pack the helmets and pads away for the winter.

It's true that both teams have relatively new coaching staffs.

UCLA's Rick Neuheisel is in his first year at his alma mater and Dennis Erickson is in his second season in Tempe.

And both teams are 4-6 overall and 3-4 in the Pac-10, with conference wins over Stanford, Washington and Washington State -- all of whom have been eliminated from bowl contention.

But the Bruins and Sun Devils have taken very different journeys this season.

ASU kicked off the season ranked 15th.

After beating Northern Arizona and Stanford, the Sun Devils lost to UNLV to start a six-game losing streak, matching a school record. ASU rebounded with back-to-back victories over the Pac-10's woeful Washington schools.

UCLA opened the season by upsetting No. 18 Tennessee in overtime at the Rose Bowl on Sept. 1.

Then came a 59-0 loss to No. 18 Brigham Young in Provo -- a result that made the possibility of a bowl game seem remote.

The Bruins went on to lose three straight, but they're 3-3 since ending the skid.