Caption: Â UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin had a career day against Kansa State, rushing for 119 yards and a touchdown.Â
UCLA Enters Bye Week 3-0 Before Stanford Road Trip
By Christian LewisSentinel Sports Writer
The Bruins returned to the Rose Bowl to a much-energized crowd on Saturday night as they took on the Kansas State Wildcats.Â Starting off the season 3-0 with a big win against Tennessee on the road, the Bruins have rallied support of the average college football fan in Southern California. The Bruins with a win on Saturday night will now focus on winning the Pac-10 that is wide open after the Washington Huskies took down the not so mighty Trojans.
Red-shirt freshman running back Johnathan Franklin led the way on offense with his career best 119 yards on 23 carries, with one touchdown, as UCLA defeated Kansas St 23-9.Â Franklinâ€™s speed and vision allowed him to find the open field numerous timesÂ
UCLA would have a difficult night having to replace Kevin Prince at quarterback after breaking his jaw in the Tennessee victory. Prince, who is expected to be out until October, watched last yearâ€™s starter Kevin Craft take the helm for the Bruins heading into their Saturday night match up.
Craft made the most of a second opportunity Saturday night, passing for 186 yards and a touchdown.Â UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel statedÂ â€œOne thing about Kevin Craft is that he never lost confidence in himself. He knew he could do it. He has been a great teammate to Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut, and he just wants to help UCLA win. His way to do that was to go out and play like the way he did before."
Even with Kraftâ€™s redemption, the Bruins are led this year by their defense and Rahim Moore, who is leading the country with five interceptions this season in only 3 games.Â
The Bruins defense has yet to allow an opponent to score over 20 points and has made most off their defense plays by picking off seven passes.Â Alterraun Verner and Moore have led the defense with their interceptions.
With help from defensive tackle Brian Price, middle linebacker Reggie Carter, and the Bosworth brothers at linebacker and defensive end the Bruins will make or break their season on the defensive side of the ball.Â The Pac-10 has always been known for its high scoring offensives. Yet, with high profile quarterbacks and running back heading to the NFL early; the pool of talent has weakened recently to where strong defensives are now deciding the conference. UCLA will have a great opportunity to resurrect themselves from the conference seller with a strong defense and an offense that is capable of putting points on the board.
The Bruins next challenge will be their Pac-10 opener October 3rd in Palo Alto against the Stanford Cardinal. Stanford is capable of upsetting the Bruins as they did against USC two years ago derailing their national title hopes.Â
The Bruins will have to take that game in order to prepare themselves for their return to the Rose bowl where the will face arguably the Pac-10â€™s best teams in Oregon and Cal back to back.Â Oregon, despite their early loss to Boise state and losing their top running back for the season due to suspension, has a very good chance of competing for the Pac-10 title. The Cal Bears are armed this year with Javid Best, their high-octane running back who is already receiving the majority of the Hiesman hype.Â Cal is expected to win the pac-10 this year as USC has finally come back to earth from their previous years dominance.
The Bruins will hope to contain the high scoring Ducks and Bears in their next home stand.Â If they are able to keep their opponents under 20 points in each of these games the Bruins offense will have a great opportunity to win these key match ups.
The 2009 season could be one for the ages if UCLA could battle for the Pac- 10 title and also gain a high national ranking.