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UCLA hopes to make best of Thursday night football opportunity

UCLA FOOTBALL

After stumbling in their two Thursday night games last season, the Bruins 'hopefully can atone,' UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel says. 'You like to put on your best when people are watching.'

October 18, 2011|By Ben Bolch
  • UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel hopes the Bruins will put on a strong Thursday night performance when they play Arizona.
UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel hopes the Bruins will put on a strong Thursday… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

The upside to nationally televised Thursday night games: Exposure.

The flip side: Everyone watching when things go horribly wrong.

UCLA experienced that worst-case scenario twice last season. The Bruins lost to Oregon, 60-13, and Washington, 24-7, during their most recent Thursday games.

"This gives us another chance, and we hopefully can atone," said UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel, whose team will play Arizona in Tucson on Thursday.

Neuheisel said he sees these events as an opportunity for marquee moments.

"You like to put on your best when people are watching," he said. "It's one of those games in that time slot where it's the only game in town. So people turning on, channel surfing, want to make sure they go, 'Look at the Bruins, they've improved.' "

The Bruins have a 2-2 record on Thursday night games. They beat San Diego State in 1991 and 1993.

Wishful thinking?

With UCLA (3-3 overall, 2-1 Pacific 12 Conference) in second place in the Pac-12 South standings given USC's ineligibility for postseason play, Bruins season-ticket holders will be receiving a letter and email from Commissioner Larry Scott inviting them to reserve the right to buy tickets for the first Pac-12 championship game Dec. 2.

Should the game be held at the Rose Bowl, season-ticket holders who reserve seats will be located as close to their normal seats as possible, said Nick Ammazzalorso, UCLA's executive director of athletic communications. Ammazzalorso said all conference teams with at least two Pac-12 victories received the letter.

Ready, set … go?

Neuheisel said Brett Hundley should be ready if the situation calls for the freshman quarterback to make his college debut against Arizona.

Of course, that doesn't mean Neuheisel will be ready.

"There's always some trepidation if you're an old man and you're putting a guy in who's never been in before, but that's for me," Neuheisel said. "He doesn't feel any of that at all. He can't wait. He's got a big grin on his face and is excited about getting in the game."

Splitting it up

Chris Ward and Albert Cid are expected to share playing time at guard for the first time. Does that mean neither player has distinguished himself enough to make the position solely his?

"That's one way to look at it," Neuheisel said. "Or the other way to look at it is both are doing well and both are getting better and both are deserving. I prefer that approach."

ben.bolch@latimes.com

Times staff writer Chris Foster contributed to this report.

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