Bruins ride a Pac-12 high to win over Wildcats


It was Johnathan Franklin’s night.

Will it become UCLA’s season?

The Bruins wake today with a new all-time leading rusher, as Franklin chased down Gaston Green’s career record on the first possession against Arizona on Saturday. But when the Bruins wipe the sleep from their eyes, the realization may come that the college football monopoly in Los Angeles just might be over.

Franklin’s serpentine 37-yard touchdown pushed him past Green and started a long and profitable evening for the Bruins. The 66-10 victory at the Rose Bowl was another steppingstone back from mediocrity, leaving 25th-ranked UCLA in control of the Pac-12 South Division.

“No one ever believed in us,” cornerback Aaron Hester said. “We did. What’s different now is our coach. He’s what this is all about about. We’re a program now.”

The landscape has shifted such that Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl officials were at Saturday’s game. The Bruins have a greater appetite this season. After a woeful season ended in that San Francisco bowl a year ago, UCLA has more deluxe accommodations in mind.

Franklin finished with 162 yards rushing in 24 carries with two touchdowns. It was the 17th 100-yard game of his career and ended his pursuit of Green.

Franklin shared the spotlight with quarterback Brett Hundley, who had 288 yards passing. He threw three touchdown passes and ran for another.

The Bruins (7-2, 4-2 in Pac-12) scored on their first four possessions and never looked back, jumping to a 42-3 halftime lead..

This put UCLA on unfamiliar ground … ahead of USC.

Oregon’s victory over USC on Saturday left the Trojans staring up at the Bruins in the standings.

The last time UCLA was above USC in the conference standings this late in the season was 11 years ago. UCLA was 3-2 and USC 3-3 after games of Nov. 3, 2001.

It has been USC’s town ever since. The Trojans have gone to the Rose Bowl five times and the Orange Bowl twice. The Bruins’ bowl trips have been in the lower-budget bracket — Las Vegas, San Francisco, etc.

“We have an opportunity now,” said Joseph Fauria, who caught two touchdown passes. “We have to keep the same mind-set. That’s what gotten us this far.”

The Bruins play the Trojans in two weeks. First, though, comes a game at Washington State.

“USC is just another game, like Washington State is just another game,” UCLA safety Tevin McDonald said this week.

USC? Just another game?

“They are just another team we have to beat,” McDonald said.

Just another team, even in the McDonald house?

“Of course not,” McDonald said, smiling.

McDonald’s brother, T.J., plays for USC. Tim McDonald, their father, also played at USC.

Caution is now the word. Holding the high ground can be more difficult than climbing there.

“We’ve got to police ourselves,” safety Andrew Abbott said. “Any talking guys do about, ‘we can go here if we win this game’ has to be stopped. Let the USC game happen when it happens.”

Arizona (5-4, 2-4) was coming off a victory over USC. The Wildcats seemed to leave their game in Tucson.

Franklin entered the game needing only 21 yards to pass Green’s total of 3,731 yards. He took care of business quickly. His jitterbug touchdown run gave UCLA a 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.

The Bruins rolled up 611 yards of offense. At one point, Hundley completed 16 consecutive passes.

It was what you expect from the Arizona defense, which entered the game ranked 110th nationally.

What was unexpected was how the UCLA defense handled, or rather manhandled, the Wildcats. Arizona quarterback Matt Scott was fourth nationally in passing yards, and was coming off a 369-yard performance against USC.

Everything Scott had to offer, the Bruins could answer. Scott threw for 125 yards before leaving the game in the third quarter after being sandwiched by UCLA’s Datone Jones and Anthony Barr. Arizona finished with 257 yards.