UCLA's Johnathan Franklin runs over Utah's defense
Pasadena, Calif. • The last time UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin faced Utah's defense, it was tough sledding.
Not only was the senior from inner-city Los Angeles playing in a blizzard, it was also the first time he had seen a defense as stingy as the one Utah touted in 2011.
In the Utes' 31-6 drubbing of UCLA last season, Franklin led his team in rushing but the Bruins mustered less than 300 yards of total offense and couldn't put the ball in the end zone.
What a difference a year makes.
There was not a cloud in sight Saturday at the Rose Bowl and Franklin had more running room, busting free for 79 yards on 22 carries despite practicing just once this week because of various nagging injuries.
"Night and day," Franklin said with a laugh.
On UCLA's decisive drive that opened the third quarter and effectively put the game away, the ball went to Franklin six times. One of those six attempts came on a pivotal fourth-and-1 that saw him clear the first-down markers with his second effort to put the Bruins inside the 10-yard line. Two Franklin runs later, the Bruins had a 14-point lead.
"You like to have the ball in his hands," first-year coach Jim Mora said. "He fights for extra yards, he takes care of the football and he takes great pride in getting the ball during those times. Everybody knows that he was in this game very beat up, and it energizes your sideline when a guy like Johnathan is just digging it out."
After UCLA's first two wins this season, Franklin was garnering some Heisman buzz. The national award talk has settled down some, but more than 40 percent of UCLA's carries still go to Franklin. He leads the Pac-12 Conference in rushing at 133 yards per game.
Johnathan Franklin stats
Opponent Attempts Yards
Rice 15 214
Nebraska 26 217
Houston 25 110
Oregon State 12 45
Colorado 15 111
California 15 102
Utah 22 79