Stanford Football: Winners and Losers from the Week 13 Game vs. UCLA
The Stanford football team has defied odds all season, and now they find themselves playing in the Pac-12 championship game.
The Cardinal thoroughly dominated the UCLA Bruins on Saturday, winning 35-17 against the team they'll face again for the right to be called conference champions.
Kevin Hogan had another efficient performance, going 15-of-22 for 160 yards and one touchdown.
The defense shut down another spread offense one week after stonewalling the Oregon Ducks.
But not everybody left the Rose Bowl satisfied with the day's events.
Here are the winners and losers from Stanford's Week 13 matchup with UCLA.
Winner: David Shaw
David Shaw had the unenviable task of replacing Jim Harbaugh a season ago, but Andrew Luck helped Shaw make the transition.
This season, without the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, all Shaw did was lead his team to a 10-2 record and a spot in the Pac-12 championship game.
Oh, and he was named Pac-12 coach of the year, a well-deserved honor for anybody that has watched his Cardinal play during the latter half of the season.
Shaw was bold enough to go with his freshman quarterback, Kevin Hogan, after Josh Nunes continued to struggle. The move has paid off, to say the least.
This was a must-win game for the Cardinal, and Shaw had his team focused and ready to go from the start. For his efforts, Stanford will now play for a spot in the Rose Bowl next Friday.
Loser: Pac-12 Conference
In what's supposed to be the main event of the conference, the Pac-12 championship will feature a rematch between UCLA and Stanford just six days after their first contest.
Anybody who watched Saturday's game probably has a pretty good idea of how this Friday will turn out. Stanford is playing unbelievable football, and it seems unlikely that the Bruins will be able to challenge the Cardinal away from home.
But most of all, this isn't the matchup that the country wanted to see. There's no doubt that the Bruins and Cardinal earned their places in the game. But wouldn't you rather see USC vs. Stanford or USC vs. Oregon? Even UCLA vs. Oregon, a rematch of last year's game, would probably draw bigger ratings than this year's dud.
On the bright side, the conference will likely place two teams in BCS bowl games. But the level of excitement for the conference title game is mild at best.
Winner: Stepfan Taylor
Stepfan Taylor is having a terrific season, and Saturday's performance typifies what Stanford football is all about.
The senior running back had 142 yards on just 20 carries, and added two touchdowns as well.
He runs hard, rarely gets taken down by the first defender and churns out the yardage in Stanford's physical, run-first offense.
The Bruins' D will have their hands full again on Friday, and you can bet Taylor will be ready to carry the load once more.
Loser: Levine Toilolo
Levine Toilolo is a talented tight end who will likely be playing on Sundays in the future.
But in the last three games, he's had just five catches for 40 yards without a score. On Saturday, he had just one grab for 10 yards.
Toilolo is still second on the team in receiving yardage, but he's taken a backseat to Zach Ertz in recent weeks.
It's hard to find too much fault in a player when his team is winning, but Stanford's offense could really open up if Toilolo has more of an impact.
The Cardinal won the game, but it wasn't Toilolo's best day.
Winner: A.J. Tarpley
It's hard to stand out as a linebacker when you line up alongside Chase Thomas and Shayne Skov.
But A.J. Tarpley has been yet another bright spot in Stanford's suffocating front seven, and he had a great game against the Bruins.
Tarpley totaled seven tackles, including two for loss and a sack.
At 6'2" and 238 pounds, Tarpley brings NFL size to an already loaded linebacker corps, and his performance against Jonathan Franklin and the high-powered UCLA offense was a significant reason why they'll play again this Friday.
Loser: Jim Mora Jr.
Jim Mora Jr.'s first season in Westwood has to be considered a success, but he saw firsthand Saturday why moving the ball against Stanford is no easy task.
In addition to the loss, he was questioned by reporters about his team's motivation to win the game.
Had UCLA won, they would have traveled to Autzen Stadium to take on the Oregon Ducks. With the loss, the Bruins now face Stanford for the second time in a week.
In short, UCLA had a difficult road matchup this Friday whether his team won or lost.
But regardless of what UCLA's intentions were entering the game, Jim Mora Jr. now has to get his team ready for the same team that just manhandled them on their own field.