Here’s the game story from UCLA’s 66-10 trouncing of Arizona. With USC and Arizona State both losing on Saturday night, the Bruins claimed sole possession of the Pac-12 South lead.
Balance of power: USC lost to Arizona by three. Arizona lost to UCLA by 56. The transitive property doesn’t apply well to sports, but it’s clear that the Trojans’ claim on Los Angeles supremacy is eroding. You can argue about which team is better; there’s no doubt which one is more exciting. (Some of that is tied to preseason expectations, but still.) UCLA hasn’t been ranked above USC in the AP poll since 2001. That should change.
UCLA has a defense: Everyone knew the Bruins’ offense was in good hands with Brett Hundley. Now the defense has added a big bullet point to its resume too. The Bruins have shown promise on that side of the ball, but have turned in mixed results for the most part. Prior to Saturday, they surrendered an average of 5.61 yards per play, allowing over 6.00 yards three times (Nebraska, Oregon State, Cal). Against Arizona, supposedly the nation’s No. 4 offense, UCLA gave up just 3.7 — the first sub-4.59 game this fall. Kudos, in particular to linebacker Eric Kendricks and his 13 tackles, two TFL, two sacks and one forced fumble.
Franklin deserves a party: He won’t want one, but someone needs to force Johnathan Franklin into a room full of party hats and jetski-shaped cakes. Franklin has been a workhorse this year, and now sits atop the UCLA’s statistical pantheon with 3,873 career rushing yards. With 1,204 this season, he’s also sneaking up on Karim Abdul-Jabbar’s mark for single-season yards (1,571, 1995).
Not only that, he is also one of the nicest people on campus. Jim Mora said his favorite moment from the game was when Franklin ran from the bench to tackle/hug Melvin Emesibe in the end zone after the game’s final touchdown — even though it cost the team 15 yards. Emesibe, by the way, is a walk-on who might have quit the team if it weren’t for The Mayor.
Protect the head: Arizona’s decision to throw Matt Scott into back into the game despite his vomiting looks even more terrible now. The quarterback was hit on the head again tonight in the third quarter; this time, the support staff appeared to put him through a concussion test and held him out. Scott said he vomited last week due to heat and fatigue, but repeated blows to the head — even without immediate symptoms — are no joke. Lip service and PR campaigns aren’t enough.
On Saturday night, the Wildcats also lost linebacker Hank Hobson, who exited the field in much more frightening fashion — completely immobilized against a cart and headed to the hospital. He fell to the ground a little after taking the initial hit, which makes it all the scarier. Rich Rodriguez said Hobson showed movement in his hands and feet, but will be examined further. Best wishes to him.
Style points: The L.A. Nights jerseys were nice. The assistant coaches’ face paint — well, whatever works. Asked about the eye black overdose after the game, Mora — who opted out — said: “Y’know, lights. So the guys just wear eye black.”
Money quote: Rich Rodriguez. “We didn’t block them. We didn’t get off of press coverage. We didn’t get open. We didn’t throw right. We didn’t run it right. We didn’t call the plays right. There was not anything we did well.”