Stanford Wins Pac-12 Championship With 27-24 Win Over UCLA

Who had this freshman winning 4 straight games against ranked opponents, claiming the MVP of the Pac-12 Title game, and leading Stanford to the Rose Bowl when Oregon St. first encountered him earlier this month? - (Photo by Andy Wooldridge)

Freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan has now won 4 games in a row, all over the best opposition the Pac-12 has to offer, in his first 4 starts for Stanford, leading the Cardinal to wins in consecutive weeks over Oregon St., Oregon (in Autzen Stadium), UCLA in the Rose Bowl, and tonight, over UCLA again, which earned him the MVP award of the Pac-12 Championship game.

Jordan Williamson connected on a 36 yard field goal with 6:49 left, putting Stanford ahead 27-24. UCLA's Kai Fairbarin had a chance to tie the game up with 34 seconds left, but his 51 yard field goal attempt, which was easily long enough, hooked wide left, and the Cardinal ran the clock out to punch their ticket to the Rose Bowl.

This despite the fact that the Bruins out-rushed and out-passes the Cardinal.

UCLA's Jonathan Franklin ran for 201 yards and 2 touchdowns on 18 carries, including a 51 yarder for the game's first score, out-dueling Stanford's Stepfan Taylor, who had 76 yards and 1 touchdown on 24 carries.

And the Bruins' freshman quarterback Brett Hundley completed 26 of 34 passes, for 182 yards, though no touchdowns, and ran for another 82 yards and a touchdown, on 16 carries, which surpasses Kevin Hogan's 153 yards and 1 touchdown, on 16 completions out of 22 attempts, and the 49 yards and a touchdown he added on his 11 runs.

The difference was the one interception Hundley threw, when he threw into over-under bracket coverage, and Stanford's Ed Randle picked it off at the Cardinal 19, and took back for an apparent touchdown. Randle was ruled down 1 yard short, and had to settle for an 80 yard return, with Taylor going the last yard for the touchdown that tied the game at 14-14, when the Bruins had been knocking on the door of going up 2 scores.

UCLA took a 24-17 lead a minute before the end of the third quarter, but Hogan found Drew Terrell for the game tieing score with 11:21 to go, and the Stanford defense proceeded to bottle up the Bruins, setting up a short field that led to the game winning field goal.

With Stanford having the conference's automatic FCS bid to the Rose Bowl, Oregon must be the next conference team selected. That's highly likely to be a BCS bowl, and when #21 (in the BCS) Northern Illinois picked off a pass in their own end zone on a 4th down play to knock off #17 (in the BCS) Kent St. 44-37 in double overtime to claim the MAC championship. Had the Golden Flashes prevailed, they would have only had to bubble up 1 spot in the BCS, past UCLA, which would have been assured with the Bruins' loss, to claim a guaranteed BCS berth.

The Huskies, and Boise St., currently #20 in the BCS, should they beat Nevada tomorrow, have a much lower likelihood of climbing into the top 16.

Oregon, at #5 in the BCS, is highly likely to get an at large BCS bid, along with either Florida or the loser of tomorrow's SEC Championship game between ALabama and Georgia, and either Kansas St. or Oklahoma, whichever does not claim the Big XII Championship, and an automatic bid, though Clemson, or possibly Nebraska, should they lose the Big 10 Championship game tomorrow night against Wisconsin, are also options in the BCS pool.

The Pac-12's 3rd. bowl choice will be between UCLA and Oregon St., and will be the Alamo Bowl's decision UNLESS Oregon were to be left out of the BCS. That would send the Ducks to San Antonio (by rule), and put the choice between the Beavers and the Bruins in the Holiday Bowl's hands.

If the bowl with the choice takes UCLA, then Oregon St. can not be bypasses by the next pick, having been bypassed once (they Beavers and Bruins have the same conference regular season record (non-conference and the Pac-12 title game do NOT count in determining the order, and Oregon St. holds the tie breaker as a result of their head to head win). This locks the Beavers into the Holiday Bowl if not selected for the Alamo Bowl UNLESS Oregon is bumped out of the BCS. In that remote possibility, Oregon St. is locked into the Sun Bowl if not selected for the Holiday Bowl.

The higher bowl selection possibility, instead of a "locked in" slot, of course is a matter of choice, and also pretty much assumes and requires an Oregon St. win over Nicholls St.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

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