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With the game tied in the fourth quarter, defensive end Datone Jones (Compton High School) sacked Nebraska’s quarterback in the endzone for a safety, giving UCLA a 29-27 lead. The play set up UCLA’s 36-30 upset victory. Photo by Jason Lewis
Running back Johnathan Franklin (Dorsey High School) is leading the nation in rushing and may be in the Heisman Trophy race pretty soon. Photo by Jason Lewis
No. 16 Nebraska stood in the way of progress, but that did not stop UCLA from getting the nation’s attention.
UCLA’s 36-30 victory over No. 16 Nebraska has turned many people into believers. For the first time in years there is a true sense of hope in Westwood, and for the first time since 2007 UCLA is ranked in the top 25.
Nebraska fell out of the top 25 after being upset at the Rose Bowl, and UCLA entered the AP polls at No. 22.
So far it looks like it is a new day for UCLA, who is now 2-0, has an offense that is racking up a lot of points and yards, and a defense that is making plays when they need to.
Freshman quarterback Brett Hundley, in his first game at the Rose Bowl, pretty much had his way with a Nebraska defense that is usually among the nations best. Hundley completed 21 of 33 passes for 305 yards and four touchdown passes. He also rushed 53 yards, as he was able to get out of the pocket when the pass rush got to him.
As good as Hundley has looked, senior running back Johnathan Franklin (Dorsey high school) has been the star of this team, and if he keeps turning in great performances, he may be in the Heisman Trophy race.
Franklin rushed for 214 yards in UCLA’s first game against Rice, and this past Saturday he rushed for 217, as he darted out into the open field on several runs. Through two weeks, he leads the nation in rushing by nearly 90 yards.
UCLA racked up 653 yards against Nebraska, and they converted on nearly half of their third down plays. Their offense was able to hold the ball for 37:40, compared to only 22:20 for Nebraska.
UCLA’s defense has come up big when they have had to so far this season, especially in the second half. Against Rice, they gave up 24 points in the first half, but none in the second half. Their performance against Nebraska was similar, as they gave up 24 points and 334 yards of offense in the first half, but only six points and 105 yards of offense in the second half. For the game, they held Nebraska to 1-11 on third downs.
The defensive play that gave UCLA control of the game against Nebraska came in the fourth quarter with the game tied at 27. Defensive end Datone Jones (Compton High School) sacked Nebraska’s quarterback in the endzone for a safety, giving UCLA a 29-27 lead and the ball. Later in the quarter, Franklin caught Hundley’s final touchdown pass of the night, giving UCLA a nine-point lead with just over two minutes to play in the game.
UCLA fans are excited, but head coach Jim Mora and his players are not trying to get caught up in the rankings. Over the past few years, UCLA has defeated ranked opponents and got everybody’s hopes up, only to fall flat on their faces. But if they do play up to the potential that they have shown, they might stay in the top 25 for several weeks, and even move up in the rankings, because the next ranked team that they play will be No. 24 Arizona on November 3, and then No. 2 USC on November 17. Both of those games are at home.
Coming up this week is another home game. UCLA will host Houston, who is 0-2 after being routed by Texas State and they lost a shootout to Louisiana Tech.
UCLA is clearly a better team than Houston, and if they want to keep the fans excited, a rout will be in order. Houston is 118th in the nation (out of 120 teams) in defense, giving up 43 points per game. UCLA is averaging 42 points per game, 18th in the nation.
Kickoff is at 7:30.