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UCLA FYI

A night practice, a short week -- and then a crucial matchup

November 24, 2008|David Wharton | Wharton is a Times staff writer.

The UCLA football team begins a short week of preparation for Arizona State with an unusual evening practice today.

Coach Rick Neuheisel won't gather his players on Spaulding Field until 7:25 p.m., getting them ready for a Friday night game at Sun Devil Stadium.

The Bruins will practice at home through Wednesday, then have meetings and a walk-through Thursday morning before traveling in the afternoon. A Thanksgiving dinner is planned in Tempe.

The matchup is vitally important to the Bruins and the Sun Devils, both of whom must win their final two games to become bowl-eligible.

"Obviously, UCLA is going to be more difficult," Arizona State Coach Dennis Erickson said after his team defeated Washington State on Nov. 15. "But we're playing for something."

Like UCLA, Arizona State had a bye this weekend.

Job market

San Diego State fired its coach, Chuck Long, on Sunday afternoon, a move that should be noticed in Westwood.

UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker has made no secret about his desire to become a head coach. His name has been connected to openings at several schools.

"I feel like I'm ready," he said recently. "My mind-set is, if I'm good enough, people are going to give me a chance, they're going to look into my work, look into what I'm about and give me an opportunity."

Smart guy

Chris Joseph, a three-year starter along the offensive line, has been named a Rhodes Scholar and will study in Oxford next fall.

A guard and center for the Bruins from 2005 through 2007, Joseph graduated with a 3.95 grade-point average in geography, with a focus on the causes of deforestation.

"I was stunned," he said of the announcement. "It took about 10 to 15 seconds for me to realize they had said my name."

Joseph is the fifth UCLA athlete to earn a Rhodes Scholarship. Scott Hugo, a UCLA senior who played on the rugby team, was also selected this weekend.

david.wharton@latimes.com

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Up next

UCLA (4-6, 3-4) at

Arizona State (4-6, 3-4)

Friday, 6:30 p.m. PST, ESPN2

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