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UCLA Football Moves to the Head of the Class

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UCLA 66 | Arizona 10

By Steve Finley, Special to the BVN

Pasadena – Right now there is a new sheriff in town. It’s the UCLA football team. The 7-2 Bruins have a better record than the pre-season No. 1 USC Trojans who have fallen to 6-3. The Bruins are 4-2 in the South Division of the Pac-12 Conference while USC is 4-3. If both teams win their games this weekend, they are headed for a winner take all southern division show down on November 17 at the Rose Bowl. Before that happens the Bruins must beat Washington State on the road and USC must beat Arizona State at home on Saturday.

“We just have to stay consistent,” said UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley. “If we do that the sky is the limit for this team. We have high expectations for this team on offense, defense and special teams. We expect everyone to do things the right way. We will make mistakes but if we stay consistent we will be alright.”

Not only is it surprising that UCLA has a better record than USC, it’s also shocking that head coach Jim Mora and his assistants are winning with the same players Rick Neuheisel had last season. But we also need to note that Neuheisel did not have Hundley last season. Neuheisel recruited Hundley two years ago and because of injuries he did not play last year. Hundley is currently one of the best quarterbacks in the nation and is the main reason UCLA is having a breakout season. “There’s no magic to it,” said Mora after the victory over Arizona. “It’s about doing what you have to do play after play.”

Doing what you have to do play after play is what running back Johnathan Franklin has done the past four years. On Saturday he broke Gaston Green’s career rushing record of 3,731 yards. Franklin finished the night with 162-yards and two touchdowns. Franklin, who continues to be humble, gives the credit to his teammates.

“The offensive line and the receivers have done a great job all season,” said Franklin. “They block and open up the big holes and I run through the holes.” Franklin’s unassuming nature has made an impression on Mora. “He’s an inspiration to me, his teammates and everyone who has watched him play,” said Mora.

Another surprise on Saturday was the play of the UCLA defense. They held Arizona’s high powered offense to 10 points. “It was a great experience,” said UCLA cornerback Sheldon Price. “We had the new uniforms on and the crowd (81,673) was amazing. We went back to basics and everyone was on top of their game. We did what we are capable of doing. We just have to keep it going.”

Steve Finley is a former Daily Bruin Editor and alum. Steve can be reached at sfinley50@aol.com

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