Pac-12 Championship 2012: Familiarity Will Catapult Stanford to a Win vs. UCLA

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistNovember 25, 2012

PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 24:  The Stanford Cardinal and the UCLA Bruins face off on the line of scrimmage at the Rose Bowl on October 13, 2012 in Pasadena, California. Stanford won 35-17.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

After destroying the UCLA Bruins Saturday 35-17, the Stanford Cardinal not only beat their Pac-12 foes, they cashed in their opportunity to play for the conference championship.

In an amazing twist of fate, Stanford’s opponent for the Pac-12 Championship will be the Bruins; that’s two weeks in a row these teams will play and two weeks in a row the Cardinal will walk away victorious.

Unfortunately for UCLA, Stanford just knows how to beat the Bruins.

While the Bruins have played solid throughout this season, head coach Jim Mora will have a hard time selling his team on being able to beat Stanford less than a week after having the Cardinal enter their building and destory them in every facet of the game.

The Cardinal is in UCLA’s head.

With so little turnaround between meetings, Mora told the media (h/t ESPN) that while he is confident, his team has an uphill task ahead of them:

Congratulations to Stanford. They played a heck of a game and they're a heck of a football team. We have some things that we have to do to get better by Friday night. We'll get right back to work. We wanted to win this game today. We came up short. There is a lot to learn. We did not play as well as we can.

As much as Mora wants to put on a strong face for his team, that comment is soaked with concern over what could become of his team over the next week. Stanford came out and attacked UCLA like few other teams have this season.

It's questionable if the Bruins can recover.

With the Mora's bunch on their heels from the second quarter on, the Cardinals utterly dominated UCLA on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. The familiarity between these teams will not only give Stanford the physical advantage, the recent loss gives Stanford the serious mental edge.

Cardinal linebacker Shayne Skov told Yahoo! Sports about the style the hard-hitting Stanford defense will use against UCLA again this week:

We were gonna bring it. We're gonna come out swinging, and we're gonna keep going until we impose our will. Hat goes off to them, but we play physical, we play hard, and we wanted to send a message because we're going to do the exact same thing next week.

While this kind of trash talk can be blocked out in almost any case, the fact that the Cardinal really did just use this game plan to beat UCLA Saturday should have every member of the Bruins legitimately concerned for next week.

That lack of confidence from Mora's bunch after being dominated will give Stanford the edge coming into the game, and it will catapult them to a huge Pac-12 Championship.

After losing Andrew Luck to the NFL, a Pac-12 title for the Cardinal will be an amazing achievement.


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