As the old saying goes, it's hard to beat a good team twice.
Apparently, Stanford doesn't believe in old sayings. The Cardinal held on late for a 27-24 win over the UCLA Bruins in the Pac-12 championship, capping off a wild six-day span where these two teams met twice.
Early on, it was clear that UCLA was ready. The Bruins came out firing and the Cardinal had no answer for the zone read-option offense that quarterback Brett Hundley and running back Jonathan Franklin used to pick up more than 275 rushing yards.
UCLA maintained its momentum in the middle of the second quarter, driving on Stanford with a 14-7 lead. However, the tide quickly turned as Hundley was intercepted down the sideline by Cardinal safety Ed Reynolds, who returned the ball to the 1-yard line. One play later, Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor punched it in to knot up the score.
In a back-and-forth game down the stretch, the score was tied 24-24 with less than eight minutes to play before Stanford got a late field goal from kicker Jordan Williamson to take the lead for good.
UCLA kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn had a chance to send the game into overtime, but missed a 51-yard field goal with less than a minute to play.
Hogan made plays when it mattered most in his fourth career starter, leading the Cardinal to the Rose Bowl where they await the winner of the Big Ten championship game on Saturday.
UCLA wasted a brilliant performance from Franklin, who rushed for 201 yards and two touchdowns. Taylor led Stanford on the ground, recording 24 carries for 76 yards and a touchdown.
We've got you covered with Twitter reaction and what's next for these two teams.
To get the ball rolling, ESPN's Stats and Information Twitter handle reminded us how rare the timing of this game really was.
This is 1st time 2 FBS teams played consecutive games vs same opponent since NCAA started classification in 1937 #UCLAvsSTAN (h/t elias)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 1, 2012
As the game was broadcast on Fox, the same network that hosts NFL games each Sunday, it's easy to see why some fans were frustrated with the amount of commercials.
One of those that identified with that school of thought was Chris Huston of CBSSports.com.
I do NOT approve of kicking off and then going to commercial. This is NOT the NFL, Fox.— Chris Huston (@HeismanPundit) December 1, 2012
The first two drives of the game for both team were something else. UCLA marched down the field and scored on an electric 51-yard run by Franklin before Hogan took the Cardinal down the field and walked into end zone from two yards out.
Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke noted the great play call by coach David Shaw.
That may have been the most naked bootleg I've ever seen...check out replay of Stanford's Hogan fooling entire UCLA student body..— Bill Plaschke (@BillPlaschke) December 1, 2012
Here's a tweet from ESPN's Stats and Information on Franklin. An obvious talent that will shoot up draft boards, Franklin is the only running back in the country with nine 100-plus yard rushing games.
So, why isn't he a more likely Heisman trophy candidate?
Johnathan Franklin has now passed Maurice Jones-Drew's school record for most all-purpose yards in a career. #UCLAvsSTAN— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 1, 2012
CBS Sports' Pac-12 Twitter account gave props to the pro-style offense Stanford uses. After Reynolds' interception, the team might want to consider playing the kid more.
Stanford's Ed Reynolds has 301 interception return yards this season. Stanford's 2nd leading receiver (Toilolo) has 387.— CBSSportsPac-12 (@CBSSportsPac12) December 1, 2012
The Pac-12 certainly couldn't have asked for a better rematch. There were all kinds of records going by the wayside in this one, including one for Hundley, as noted by Fox Sports.
Young and talented. Brett Hundley has passed Sean Mannion (3,332) w/the most passing yards in a season by a Pac-12 freshman in the BCS era.— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) December 1, 2012
ESPN Los Angeles' Arash Markazi gave us one final note for the evening. If you haven't heard Gus Johnson on the Fox broadcast, check him out next time you can.
Gus Johnson's voice will make up for the 40,000 empty seats.— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) December 1, 2012
Player of the Game: Kevin Hogan
Pac-12 championship MVP Hogan wasn't great statistically, but for a freshman in a championship game, he was phenomenal. Hogan finished 16-of-22 for 153 yards and a touchdown and added 49 yards rushing.
Shaw obviously trusts the young man. On third-and-15 in the fourth quarter, he dialed up a touchdown pass to wide receiver Drew Terrell that tied the score at 24. Hogan then helped run the clock out, and played a big part in the drive that ended with the game-winning field goal.
Heading into the Rose Bowl, there aren't many freshman on a hot streak like Hogan. The young signal-caller Hogan is doing big things for a Stanford team that was a few bounces of the football away from securing a spot in the national championship game.
UCLA appears headed to the Valero Alamo Bowl, where they will catch a Big 12 opponent. That spot could go to Oregon State, but the Bruins certainly played well enough to garner some attention from bowl selection committees.
Stanford will have to prepare for Nebraska or Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. In a game of similar styles, the Cardinal appear to have the geographical edge and a defense that is equipped to stifle Taylor Martinez or Montee Ball.