Saturday night in front of a crowd of over 81,000 rowdy, intense, slightly intoxicated fans, UCLA football put on a show. The dominant win over the University of Arizona Wildcats is something unfamiliar to UCLA fans in quite some time. Coupled with the Southern Cal loss, the Bruins are now ranked ahead of the Trojans for the first time since 2001.
Arizona, meanwhile, was riding high after the upset win over the Trojans last week, but ran into a buzz saw at the Rose Bowl. The Bruins dominated from start to finish and left zero doubt in the second half as they cruised to a 66-10 victory.
Here are five things we learned from the Bruins win vs. Arizona
1. Jim Mora is a players’ coach- This was apparent two times during the UCLA win on Saturday. First, after Johnathan Franklin broke Gaston’s Green record and became the all-time leading rusher in UCLA history, Mora called a timeout so Franklin could get a standing ovation from the crowd. Later, with the game well within control, walk on running back Melvin Emesibe scored a one yard touchdown. Franklin then sprinted from the sidelines, helmet off, and tackled Emesibe in celebration. Rather than berate Franklin, who obviously was called for a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, Mora called Franklin a leader post game for his celebration.
2. UCLA is in the drivers position to win the South- With the win over Arizona, UCLA now controls their own destiny in the South division. With a win over Washington State this week, UCLA will play in the virtuoso Pac 12 South Championship against USC the following week. If UCLA beats the Cougs and USC beats ASU this Saturday, the November 17th matchup will have the highest South division implications possible. With UCLA now ranked ahead of USC and the game being played at the Rose Bowl, the rivalry game will be of utmost importance, not just for bragging rights, but to keep the Rose Bowl dream alive.
3. Revenge is sweet- After the embarrassing loss in Tucson last year and the even more embarrassing brawl that ensued, UCLA got it’s revenge on Saturday. Players and coaches kept quiet all week when asked about “revenge,” but after the game Saturday, several players admitted to having a little extra edge this week. 66-10 proved that.
4. UCLA found a punt returner- After struggling the majority of the season returning punts, Randall Goforth was given a shot on Saturday and did very well. Albeit a small sample size, Goforth returned two punts for 48 yards. The 24.0 yard average will certainly cement his spot as the punt returner for at least another week. With the ball in his hands, Goforth is explosive. Coming out of Long Beach Poly last season, many teams recruited him as a wide receiver. As a true freshman, he has played well at safety and will now get to show off his talent with the ball in his hands on punt returns.
5. Brett Hundley is the best UCLA quarterback since Cade McNown- Others have had strong seasons since Cade, most notably Drew Olson in 2005, but no one has had the overall impact that Hundley has had. Brett is on pace to throw for 3,304 yards in the regular season and 28 touchdowns. Hundley also has rushed for six touchdowns. His poise, charisma, and maturity for a redshirt freshman is off the charts. While others in the Pac 12, especially Matt Barkley, Marcus Mariota, and Matt Scott, have received more attention, Brett keeps chugging along and may be the best quarterback in the Pac 12 conference right now.