PASADENA, Calif. — Johnathan Franklin couldn’t stop smiling after becoming UCLA’s career rushing leader. The wide grin wasn’t just about what he accomplished personally Saturday night at the Rose Bowl.
Franklin gained 162 yards, redshirt freshman Brett Hundley passed for 288 yards and three touchdowns, and No. 25 UCLA overwhelmed No. 24 Arizona 66-10 to move into first place in the Pac-12 South.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Franklin, a 5-foot-11, 195-pound senior from Los Angeles said. “All praises to my teammates. They open up the big holes. I just run through them. My goal wasn’t to break the record, just to help the team. Winning is our only motive. We understand what kind of position we’re in.”
And that position is something UCLA hasn’t experienced in 14 years — a possible berth in the Rose Bowl game. The Bruins know if they win their final three games plus the Pac-12 championship game that they’ll be playing in Pasadena on New Year’s Day.
Their confidence should be soaring after such an impressive win against an opponent that seemed poised to give them a hard-fought game. UCLA entered as a three-point favorite.
Franklin entered needing 21 yards to overtake Gaston Green, who gained 3,731 yards from 1984-87.
Franklin moved into the top spot with a 37-yard touchdown run on his third carry, capping a 75-yard, nine-play drive following the opening kickoff that put the Bruins (7-2, 4-2 Pac-12) ahead for good.
Franklin, who carried 24 times and scored twice, raised his career rushing total to 3,873 yards as the Bruins, off to their best start since 2005, raced to a 42-3 halftime lead in snapping a five-game losing streak to the Wildcats (5-4, 2-4) who beat them 48-12 in Tucson last year.
“He’s just an inspiration to all of his teammates, he’s an inspiration to me,” first-year UCLA coach Jim Mora said. “It’s his night; what a classy kid.”
The Bruins called a timeout after Franklin’s record-breaking run to allow teammates to congratulate him. The crowd of 81,673 at the Rose Bowl joined in the celebration. Franklin came into the game as the country’s seventh-leading rusher.
“I was so emotional,” Franklin said. “I’m happy I was able to celebrate with them (his teammates).”
The 66 points were the most scored by the Bruins since Oct. 4, 1997, when they beat Houston 66-10.
UCLA gained 371 yards of its 611 yards in the first half against a shaky Arizona defense, which came into the game ranked 110th out of 120 teams in total defense.
The Wildcats, ranked fourth nationally in total offense with a 553.6-yard average, gained just 83 of their 257 yards in the opening 30 minutes.
“They played disciplined, they tackled well,” Mora said of the UCLA defense. “I thought our coverage and our rush meshed well tonight. I think they felt challenged. We knew this was an outstanding defense coming in here tonight. They were focused, they were intense. There’s no magic to it.”
Hundley, who completed 16 straight passes at one stage, finished with 23 completions in 28 attempts without being intercepted.
The win gave the Bruins a better record than crosstown rival Southern California through nine games for the first time since 2001. The 18th-ranked Trojans (6-3, 4-3) lost to No. 2 Oregon 62-51 earlier Saturday.
Arizona’s Matt Scott, ranked second nationally in total offense at 386.1 yards per game, completed 15 of 25 passes for 124 yards before being shaken up and leaving the game midway through the third quarter. Scott was unable to finish his team’s 39-36 upset of USC last weekend after being injured late in the game.
“Matt hit his head on somebody’s thigh and got dizzy,” first-year Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said. “I spoke with him in the locker room after the game and he’s OK.”
Arizona linebacker Hank Hobson was carted off the field in the fourth quarter. Rodriguez said Hobson was taken to a hospital and he wasn’t sure whether Hobson would remain overnight.
“He has movement in his arms and legs,” Rodriguez said.
Regarding the game, Rodriguez said he was embarrassed by his team’s performance.
“I felt we were ready to play tonight, but we weren’t,” he said. “It starts with me and the staff. This does not define who we are, but give UCLA credit.”
Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey, the country’s 12th-leading rusher, was held to 54 yards on 16 carries.
The Bruins took a 21-0 lead before Arizona got a first down, scoring on Franklin’s record-setting run, a 6-yard keeper by Hundley seven plays after an 18-yard punt by Kyle Dugandzic gave UCLA the ball at the Wildcats 34-yard line, and a 17-yard pass from Hundley to Jordan Payton that finished an 85-yard drive.
David Allen recovered a muffed punt by Arizona’s Richard Morrison at the Wildcats 39-yard line early in the second quarter, and Damien Thigpen scored on a 1-yard run three plays later to make it 28-0.
John Bonano’s 28-yard field goal midway through the second period put Arizona on the scoreboard, but Franklin scored on a 2-yard run to cap a 75-yard, 11-play drive. A 36-yard punt return by Randall Goforth to the Arizona 32 set up a 1-yard TD pass from Hundley to Joseph Fauria with 14 seconds left before halftime.
Ka’imi Fairbairn’s 25-yard field goal early in the third quarter made it 45-3 before the usually high-scoring Wildcats finally scored a touchdown on Carey’s 2-yard run.
B.J. Denker, who relieved Scott, fumbled on his second play and Cassius Marsh recovered for the Bruins. Hundley threw a 28-yard scoring pass to Fauria on the next play to make it 52-10. Steven Manfro scored on a 14-yard run and Melvin Emesibe added a 1-yard plunge in the final period for UCLA.