Holiday Bowl: How do UCLA and Baylor match up?

UCLA offense vs. Baylor defense: Although they give up more yards than every team in the country except Louisiana Tech, the Bears aren’t the second-worst defense in the college football. Baylor has won four of its past five games because it suddenly discovered the ability to force turnovers. In that span, the Bears grabbed 11 of their 18 interceptions on the season. (Meanwhile, quarterback Nick Florence threw just two picks.) However, this still doesn’t mean that Baylor is a particularly good defense. Only two teams in the Big 12 give up more yards per play than the Bears, which partly negates the argument that their numbers are bad due to the offenses they face.

Though Brett Hundley has thrown a pick in three of this past four games, he is still just 60 yards away from Cade McNown’s single-season passing record and could crack that by the end of the first quarter. Johnathan Franklin could conceivably get 300 yards to hit 2,000 on the season. (Great stat, courtesy of ESPN: Franklin averages 4 yards after contact on fourth-quarter rushes. He averages just 2.1 per carry in the first three quarters.) Edge: UCLA

Baylor offense vs. UCLA defense: Florence isn’t the superstar Robert Griffin III was Continue reading

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Franklin’s friendship with Hundley

Even a year ago, Johnathan Franklin and Brett Hundley weren’t as close as they are now. Then they became roommates and became more or less inseparable. Franklin said Hundley and redshirt sophomore Librado Barocio — another roommate — will likely be his best men at his wedding.

That sort of relationship is hard to come by, and has certainly helped in a season that have seen both Franklin and Hundley turn into stars.

“It’s great,” Franklin said. “That’s my quarterback. He’s going to give me the ball, so I know that he likes me a little bit. Just being able to keep each other accountable, call each other out on certain things and not be mad about it. …

“I tell them literally every day, I wish I had another year with y’all.”

Said Hundley: “I trust Jet with pretty much anything and everything. Just to have that relationship on and off the field … you’re sort of on the same level.”

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Franklin named FWAA All-American

Johnathan Franklin made the FWAA All-American list today, the last of the NCAA-recognized teams to be announced. Of those five teams (AP, AFCA, Walter Camp, Sporting News are the others), this is Franklin’s first appearance on a first team. He missed out on AFCA and Sporting News lists, and made the AP and Walter Camp second teams.

USC’s Marqise Lee was the only Pac-12 player to make all five first teams. Tellingly, no running backs in the country achieved unanimous All-American status, with Franklin, Kenjon Barner (Oregon), Montee Ball (Wisconsin) and Ka’Deem Carey (Arizona) all swapping in and out of the top spots.

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Fauria left off Phil Steele’s All-Pac-12

Here are the Bruins that made Phil Steele’s All-Pac-12 teams:

OFFENSE
1st: RB Johnathan Franklin, OL Xavier Su’a-Filo
2nd: OL Jeff Baca
3rd: WR Shaquelle Evans
DEFENSE
1st: LB Anthony Barr
2nd: DT Datone Jones, LB Eric Kendricks
SPECIAL TEAMS
1st: P Jeff Locke
3rd: KR Damien Thigpen, PR Steven Manfro (Huh?!)

The most glaring omission is senior Fauria, who was left off despite being one of eight semifinalists for the John Mackey Award — given to the top tight end in the nation. I get that Fauria isn’t a true blocking tight end anymore, but he was tied for second in the conference with 11 touchdown receptions. Arizona State’s Chris Coyle, who got the third team nod, grabbed just five and only had 11 more yards per game (54.9 to 43.2).

On the bright side for UCLA fans, Franklin made first team with Kenjon Barner, beating out Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey. This could bode well for Franklin’s chances at the last remaining NCAA-recognized All-American list: the Football Writers Association of America releases its team later this week, and Steele is on the committee.

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Three Bruins earn AP All-American spots

Tailback Johnathan Franklin and linebacker Anthony Barr were both named second-team All-Americans by the Associated Press this morning. Offensive lineman Xavier Su’a-Filo made the third team.

Franklin shared his second-team nod with fellow Doak Walker finalist Kenjon Barner (Oregon), both of whom were beat out by Wisconsin’s Montee Ball (Doak Walker winner) and Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey (nation’s leading rusher).

The five All-American lists recognized by the NCAA are the AP, American Football Coaches Association, Sporting News, Walter Camp and the Football Writers Association of America (which will be released later this week).

Franklin was also a second-teamer on the Walter Camp list, behind Ball, Barner and Carey. No other Bruin has made an All-American list other than the AP, but no other list went three teams deep.

Other AP first-team selections from the Pac-12: WR Marqise Lee (USC), TE Zach Ertz (Stanford), DT Star Lotulelei (Utah), DT Will Sutton (ASU), CB Jordan Poyer (Oregon State).

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Ball wins Doak Walker over Franklin, Barner

Johnathan Franklin may hold nearly a half-dozen UCLA records, but that wasn’t good enough to earn him the distinction of being the nation’s best running back. Franklin finished second to Wisconsin’s Montee Ball, who also edged out presumptive favorite Kenjon Barner (Oregon).

Here’s a statistical comparison between the three seniors.

Kenjon Barner:
12 games, 248 carries, 1,624 yards (6.5 ypc), 21 TD … 19 receptions, 232 yards, 1 TD
Montee Ball:
13 games, 332 carries, 1,730 yards, (5.2 ypc), 21 TD … 9 receptions, 65 yards, 0 TD
Johnathan Franklin:
13 games, 268 carries, 1,700 yards (6.3 ypc), 13 TD … 32 receptions, 319 yards, 2 TD

Franklin’s lack of touchdowns obviously hurt him, but Continue reading

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Stanford 27, UCLA 24: First thoughts

STANFORD, Calif. — Wow. What an exciting football game, and what a gut punch for the UCLA players. (Game story here.) Some quick takeaways:

Franklin’s dominance: Johnathan Franklin came through with easily his best performance of the season. The Doak Walker finalist bounced back from his 65-yard showing a week ago, running roughshod over the nation’s top-ranked rushing defense. In front of a national audience — even LeBron James watched at least part of the game — Franklin grinded out 194 yards and two touchdowns on just 19 carries. (Why not more touches?!) No other back had run for more yards against the Cardinal, and only one team had more (Oregon, 198).

“We blocked better,” UCLA head coach Jim Mora said. “We found some seams. We got to the second level. … Johnathan’s a hard runner. He’s a guy that’s tough to bring down.”

That All-Pac-12 first team snub looks worse by the day.

Youth hurts: As splendid as Brett Hundley has been this season, his second-quarter interception to Ed Reynolds sucked away all of UCLA’s momentum. The redshirt freshman quarterback nearly threw another pick to A.J. Tarpley, but the linebacker bobbled a gift of a throw.

Only the beginning? Fans can take some solace in the fact that UCLA absolutely won the offseason hiring battle. Getting Jim Mora wasn’t a widely lauded move, but he’s Better yet, he doesn’t seem like a coach that will move on anytime soon. He spent over two decades in the NFL, and said he had doubted his coaching future after the Seahawks fired him. There may be some allure in trying to prove himself again as a pro, but he seems comfortable at the college level, and likely doesn’t want to uproot his family.

There’s little shame in losing to a Stanford team that has now swept the other three California schools for a third year straight.

“They should be proud of what they accomplished,” Mora said. “You did poll people at the start of the season. If anybody thought that we’d have been sitting here tonight with less than 45 seconds left on the clock to tie it or even win it, I’m not sure anyone would have taken that bet. …

“I think there are a lot of bright things on the horizon for UCLA football.”

Going bowling: Stanford is going to the Rose Bowl and Oregon is a lock for the Fiesta. UCLA will end up in either the Alamo Bowl, which has the next pick out of the Pac-12, or the Holiday Bowl. That means a third- or fourth-place Big 12 opponent, with the choices being Oklahoma State, Texas or TCU. Oregon State, whose fans tend to travel better, will end up in whatever bowl doesn’t take the Bruins. UCLA has the Los Angeles TV market on its side. At this point, I’d still bet on the destination being Alamo Bowl. We’ll find out Saturday evening.

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