PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Redshirt freshman Brett Hundley passed for 320 yards and two touchdowns, and No. 22 UCLA’s hard-hitting defense held high-scoring Houston in check Saturday night as the Bruins beat the Cougars 37-6.
Johnathan Franklin, the nation’s leading rusher, gained 110 yards on 25 carries, Sheldon Price tied a school record with three of UCLA’s five interceptions, and Ka’imi Fairbairn kicked three field goals to help the unbeaten Bruins earn their third straight victory under first-year coach Jim Mora.
Hundley completed 27 of 42 passes with two interceptions. Franklin, a senior who averaged 215.5 yards in his team’s first two games, moved into second place on UCLA’s career rushing list with 3,210 yards. Gaston Green gained 3,731 yards in the 1980s.
Houston’s David Piland completed 28 of 60 passes for 249 yards with the five interceptions. Piland’s 86-yard run with 4:54 remaining kept the Cougars from being shut out for the first time in nearly 12 years.
The teams combined for 11 turnovers — six by Houston.
Playing under first-year coach Tony Levine, the Cougars are off to their first 0-3 start since 2001, when they went 0-11. They were 13-1 last season including a 38-34 season-opening victory over the Bruins, but coach Kevin Sumlin left for Texas A&M and many of their best players moved on as well.
UCLA finished with 29 first downs and 567 yards of total offense. The Bruins averaged 649.5 yards in their first two games to rank third in the country.
Houston finished with 14 first downs and 388 yards in total offense. The Cougars averaged 31 points and 395.5 yards in their first two games.
The Bruins led 17-0 after a dominant first half. The lead might have been bigger but for three second-quarter turnovers in Houston territory.
UCLA went ahead for good on the game’s second play when linebacker Eric Kendricks returned Piland’s errant backward pass intended for Ronnie Williams 23 yards for a touchdown.
The Bruins moved 90 yards on 17 plays on their third possession, scoring on a 7-yard pass from Hundley to Datone Jones to make it 14-0. It was the first career reception for Jones, a fifth-year senior who starts at defensive end.
UCLA appeared on the verge of scoring again before D.J. Hayden picked off Hundley’s sideline pass at the Houston 9 on the first play of the second period.
But UCLA forced a punt and Steven Manfro returned it 27 yards to the Cougars 26, setting up a 35-yard field goal by Fairbairn.
Houston was unable to capitalize after recovering fumbles at its 31 and 29 on the next two UCLA possessions. The Cougars crossed midfield for the first time after the second recovery, but Matt Hogan was wide left on a 46-yard field goal.
Damien Thigpen returned the second-half kickoff 55 yards, setting up a 45-yard, six-play scoring drive capped by Hundley’s 12-yard pass to Jordan James.
The Bruins committed their fourth turnover midway through the third quarter, but Tevin McDonald’s 50-yard interception return two plays later set up a 23-yard field goal by Fairbairn. An interception by Price on Houston’s first play following the kickoff set up a 33-yard field goal by Fairbairn that made it 30-0.
Houston reached the UCLA 12-yard line early in the final period before Price made his third interception in the end zone for the Cougars’ sixth turnover.
Manfro’s 14-yard run with 3:10 remaining completed the scoring.