The Stanford Cardinal are going to the Pac-12 Championship Game after defeating the UCLA Bruins, 35-17.
Ironically, the victory over the Bruins sets up a rematch with UCLA in six days to determine the Pac-12 champions and the winner of the Rose Bowl berth.
The Bruins were able to keep the game even early on, the first quarter finishing with a score of 7-7. From then on it was Stanford that physically dominated its Pac-12 foe.
The Cardinal relied on a punishing run game to wear down the Bruins front, as two rushing touchdowns made it 21-10 going into half.
The second half would be more of the same, as Stanford continued to feed Stepfan Taylor and Anthony Wilkerson to keep the ball away from Brett Hundley and the Bruins offense.
When the Bruins did have the ball, they weren't able to do much with it. Hundley was severely limited in the passing game and the Cardinal front did a great job of containing running back Johnathan Franklin all night.
Oregon alum and current San Francisco 49er LaMichael James was watching and noted the physicality of the battle in the trenches.
Watching this ucla and Stanford and up front them boys is MEAN 😡— LaMichael James (@LaMichaelJames) November 24, 2012
Luke Russert of NBC News pointed out how impressive it is that Stanford is a Top 10 program with their academic prestige.
It hasn't been said enough of how damn impressive it is that Stanford is a top 10 fb program. I knew kids that chose Stanford over Harvard— Luke Russert (@LukeRussert) November 25, 2012
CBS Sports blogger Jonathan Gold criticized the Bruins for laying down for the Cardinal.
Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated pointed out the irony of Stanford heading to the Pac-12 title game one year removed from the Andrew Luck era.
So Stanford is going to play for the Pac-12 title the year AFTER Andrew Luck. … So very Tee Martin of them.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) November 25, 2012
Player of the Game: Stepfan Taylor
In a game marked with physicality, it was the bruising running back that made the difference for the Cardinal.
Taylor owes a lot of the honor to his offensive line, which opened up a ton of holes all night. But he made the most of his opportunities and left UCLA demoralized.
Stanford went to their bell cow back early and often against the Bruins and the UCLA defense simply had no answer. Taylor stretched his 100-yard rushing streak to three games and made clutch runs whenever the Cardinal needed a first down.
If UCLA plans on being competitive in the rematch, it'll have to find a way to contain Taylor.