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UCLA football: Plenty of seats were available for Bruins-Spartans

September 11, 2011 | 12:47 am

Rick-neuheisel_300 At least UCLA’s near-debacle against San Jose State was a private affair.

The Bruins drew 42,685 to the Rose Bowl for their 27-17 victory Saturday. It was the second-smallest crowd for a home opener since UCLA moved to the Rose Bowl. UCLA had 37,965 show up for a game against Cal State Fullerton in 1992.

Saturday was the sixth sub-50,000 crowd for a UCLA home opener at the Rose Bowl, joining Rice (44,808) in 2005, Boise State (46,752) in 1999, Oklahoma State (48,702) in 2004 and Northeast Louisiana (49,990) in 1996.

Coach Rick Neuheisel, though, was relentlessly optimistic about the small crowd.

“I never get disappointed at people who come to a game,” Neuheisel said. “Our job is to get more to come, but the ones who come we love and appreciate them and look forward to them coming next week.”

Still, Neuheisel broke with his tradition and did not address the crowd following the victory.

--Chris Foster

Photo: UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel gives the thumbs-up to fans as he arrives at the Rose Bowl for Saturday's game against San Jose State. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times