|UCLA RB Johnathan Franklin ran for 194 yards and two touchdowns in the Bruins' Pac-12 title game loss to Stanford. (US Presswire)|
Here's the latest on the Pac-12's top players who are projected to go from playing on Saturdays to starring on Sundays.
Why he has the top spot: UCLA didn't win the Pac-12 Championship game, but that wasn't Franklin's fault. The senior running back did something no other running back had been able to do all season: he ran all over the Stanford defense. Franklin tallied 194 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries against what had been the nation's No. 1 rush defense. Thanks in large part to Franklin's performance, the Cardinal defense fell two spots and is now ranked No. 3.
Season stats (13 games): 268 carries, 1,700 yards, 13 touchdowns; 32 receptions, 319 yards, two touchdowns.
Player ranking: Franklin is ranked 123rd overall and is the 10th-highest rated RB in CBSSports.com's latest player rankings.
Up next: Franklin and the Bruins are headed for the Holiday Bowl, where they'll meet the Big 12's Baylor Bears. Franklin just went up against the No. 1 rushing defense in the country (Stanford), so don't expect him to be intimidated by a Bear rushing defense that ranks 91st in the country, surrendering over 190 rush yards per game.
Why he has the second spot: Taylor didn't put up Franklin-type numbers, but he was still impressive in Friday's Pac-12 Championship game. The senior running back totaled 133 yards and one touchdown in the Cardinal's 27-24 win. The most impressive part of Taylor's performance may have been his six catches for 55 yards. The six receptions marked his highest total of the season, and the 55 yards was his second highest yardage output. Taylor also added 78 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Season stats (13 games): 302 carries, 1,442 yards, 12 touchdowns; 38 receptions, 270 yards, two touchdowns.
Player ranking: Taylor is ranked 91st overall and is the sixth-highest rated RB in CBSSports.com's latest player rankings.
Up next: Taylor is headed for his first career Rose Bowl, where Stanford will meet a five-loss Wisconsin team. The Cardinal ground game should get a stiff test from a Badgers' run defense that's ranked No. 21 in the country
3. LB Shayne Skov, 6-3, 242, Stanford
Why he has the third spot: Skov recorded nine tackles and two tackles for losses in Stanford's win over UCLA. The performance capped a strong senior year for Skov, who led the team in tackles.
Season stats (12 games): 72 tackles, 9.5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks.
Player ranking: Skov is ranked 84th overall and is the fourth-highest rated ILB in CBSSports.com's latest player rankings.
Up next: The Cardinal are headed for the Rose Bowl and a game against the nation's No. 12 rushing offense in Wisconsin. Stanford has played two top-15 rushing teams this season -- Arizona, Oregon -- and in both games, the Cardinal defense put the clamps on the running game.
Keep an eye on: LB Chase Thomas, 6-4, 248, Stanford
Why you should watch him: If you've ever wondered what it's like to see someone get hit by a truck, watch Thomas hit an offensive player the next time he's on the field. Thomas was everywhere in the Cardinal's win over UCLA. Bruin QB Brett Hundley is probably waking up with cold sweats this week thanks to Thomas, who sacked him twice in the Pac-12 Championship game. Thomas also tallied 10 tackles and a pass break-up in the game.
Season stats (13 games): 68 tackles, 14 TFLs, 7.5 sacks, 1 FF, 2 fumble recoveries.
Player ranking: Thomas is ranked 38th overall and is the fourth-highest rated OLB in CBSSports.com's latest player rankings.
Up next: One of the big keys to beating Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl will be shutting down the Badger rushing attack, which means Thomas and Skov will both have to play big games for Stanford to win.