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:

1st: RB Johnathan Franklin, OL Xavier Su’a-Filo
2nd: OL Jeff Baca
3rd: WR Shaquelle Evans
1st: LB Anthony Barr
2nd: DT Datone Jones, LB Eric Kendricks
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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Pac-12 Championship: Running score

Stanford 27, UCLA 24 – 6:49 fourth quarter: UCLA got the clutch defensive play it needed, with Randall Goforth breaking up the end zone pass. Stanford settles for a 36-yard field goal by Jordan Williamson. Bruins limited that Cardinal drive to just 25 yards on five plays after a big punt return by Drew Terrell.

UCLA 24, Stanford 24 – 11:21 third quarter: Kevin Hogan ties the game with a 26-yard pass to Drew Terrell. UCLA cornerback Sheldon Price had a clear shot at tipping the pass, but jumped too early. One of Hogan’s better throws tonight caps a 10-play, 58-yard drive that was mostly Stepfan Taylor runs.

The Bruins just can’t shake the Cardinal despite more than a 100-yard edge in total offense. UCLA has committed seven penalties for 64 yards. Stanford has three for 25.

UCLA 24, Stanford 17 – 1:04 third quarter: Johnathan Franklin continues to completely wreck Stanford’s vaunted run defense. This time, a 20-yard scamper gives UCLA’s star tailback his second score of the day, capping the Bruins’ 12-play, 80-yard drive. In what has already been a remarkable season by Franklin, this is the gem.

He already has 173 rushing yards on just 15 carries with over a quarter to go. Few teams have been able to rush for triple digits against Stanford, with Oregon rolling up the most with 198 on 40 carries.

UCLA 17, Stanford 17 – 8:20 third quarter: The Bruins tie the game on a 31-yard field goal from freshman Ka’imi Fairbairn, who has incredibly reliable from short range all season. UCLA’s nine-play, 47-yard drive stalled as Brett Hundley couldn’t find open receivers, including Joe Fauria running out of bounds to make himself ineligible to receive.

Johnathan Franklin continues one of his best games of the season. His 32-yard run on the drive helped give him 149 on the day, more than any other back has against Stanford.

Stanford 17, UCLA 14 – 0:02 second quarter: Jordan Williamson’s 37-yard field goal breaks the game’s streak of five straight punts, giving the Cardinal a slight edge heading into halftime. The 10-play, 62-yard drive was mostly Kevin Hogan on both passes and runs, but tailback Stepfan Taylor set up the field goal with a 9-yard scamper — one that made him Stanford’s all-time leading rusher.

The natural grass field at Stanford Stadium is getting slippery, and it’s started to affect a number of plays. Even officials have lost their footing.

UCLA 14, Stanford 14 – 12:57 second quarter: Brett Hundley makes a costly mistake, forcing a throw to Joe Fauria that just wasn’t there. That gets taken back 80 yards on a eye-popping return by safety Ed Reynolds, who misses out on a pick six after the play is reviewed. Stepfan Taylor punches the ball in on a one-play, one-yard drive.

Bruins absolutely had all the momentum until that interception, having just churned out 59 yards in six plays. That included a 31-yard run by Franklin and a 17-yard pass from Hundley to Fauria.

UCLA 14, Stanford 7 – 3:40 in the first quarter: Brett Hundley abuses the Stanford defense with his legs, finding space on the left side and scrambling five yards to the end zone. Hundley had followed up his team’s 15-yard penalty earlier on the drive with a 48-yard streak to the Stanford 24-yard-line.

Really good showing on the ground today for UCLA. The Bruins already have 132 yards rushing. Franklin has 80 on the day, and is the new single-season record holder for rushing yards.

UCLA 7, Stanford 7 — 6:07 first quarter: Kevin Hogan absolutely embarrassed the Bruins defense on a fake handoff, turning around to walk two yards into the end zone. No one was within even 10 yards of the Stanford quarterback on that naked bootleg. Great playcall by David Shaw there.

The Cardinal came up big twice on that 11-play, 69-yard drive. Kevin Hogan rushed 13 yards to convert a third down around midfield, and Stepfan Taylor turned a little toss into a 32-yard gain. That gave Stanford first-and-goal on the 2-yard-line.

UCLA 7, Stanford 0 – 11:35 first quarter: The Bruins get on the board early with 51-yard run up the middle by Johnathan Franklin. The tailback has now broken Maurice Jones-Drew’s record in career all-purpose yards (4,688).

UCLA lucked out a bit earlier on this drive when Trent Murphy nailed Brett Hundley from the weakside to force a fumble, but the play was called back had been blown dead due to referee confusion as to whether it should have been first or second down for the Bruins. That drive went 85 yards for 8 plays for the Bruins, including four first downs.

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