Stanford Football: Bruins-Cardinal-113012

Video: Stanford OLB Chase Thomas

December, 1, 2012

Stanford outside linebacker Chase Thomas talks about Stanford's win over UCLA and the program getting respect.

Chip on shoulder, Stanford comes up roses

November, 30, 2012

PALO ALTO, Calif. -- It didn't matter to Stanford that everyone was handing the Pac-12 to either USC or Oregon in the preseason. But, of course, it did. It didn't matter to Stanford that many expected the Cardinal to take a significant step back after losing quarterback Andrew Luck, the first overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. But, of course, it did.

That's the twin engine that drives Stanford. It's contradictory only on the surface. Stanford doesn't pay attention to what you think because that chip is already on its collective shoulder. It's part of the program's culture. It doesn't care what you think but -- just in case -- it's certain you doubt them.

Yet here the Cardinal are, headed to the Rose Bowl as the Pac-12 champions after beating UCLA 27-24 on Friday, gutting out a victory over a foe that looked a lot tougher than it did six days earlier in a 35-17 defeat. The Cardinal is headed to a third consecutive BCS bowl game with a chance to finish a third consecutive season in the final top 10.

Surely that will convince the naysayers that the most elite academic institution playing FBS football is also elite on the gridiron?

"They probably still won't give us credit," outside linebacker Chase Thomas said. "They never have. They just don't get it. They counted us out before the season after Andrew left. They counted us out when [coach Jim] Harbaugh left. And when [running back Toby] Gerhart left."

While you might quibble with Stanford not getting credit -- it has finished ranked fourth and seventh in the final Associated Press poll the past two seasons -- you can't quibble with the facts: The Cardinal is now 11-2 and headed to the Rose Bowl after replacing one of the great college quarterbacks of the past decade, not to mention a handful of other early-round NFL draft picks.

This program has some legs.

But this one wasn't easy. The Bruins showed up for take two. It was only decided when Ka'imi Fairbairn missed a 51-yard field goal attempt with 34 seconds left.

After rushing for just 73 yards and giving up seven sacks in game one, the Bruins rushed for 282 yards and yielded three sacks. They outgained the Cardinal 464 yards to 323.

Said Stanford coach David Shaw, "They just played better."

But two plays changed the game. First, with UCLA leading 14-7 and facing a second-and-16 from the Cardinal 36-yard line, quarterback Brett Hundley threw his only interception on the night, but it was returned 80 yards by Ed Reynolds to the Bruins' 1-yard line. A play later, it was 14-14, and the Cardinal quashed early UCLA momentum.

[+] EnlargeEd Reynolds.
AP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezEd Reynolds halted a UCLA drive with this 80-yard INT return, which Stanford immediately cashed in.
Then, early in the fourth quarter with UCLA leading 24-17, Stanford faced a third-and-15 from the Bruins' 26-yard line. The Cardinal sent out four vertical receivers, with tight end Zach Ertz cutting underneath in the middle. The safety followed Ertz. Quarterback Kevin Hogan saw receiver Drew Terrell get some space along the right sideline.

"The corner sat a little bit," Hogan said.

Hogan found Terrell for a 26-yard touchdown to tie the score.

Said UCLA coach Jim Mora, "We busted a coverage."

Hogan won game MVP honors, and Stanford's transformation can be traced to him. The redshirt freshman made his first career start Nov. 10 against Oregon State, but now he has beaten four consecutive ranked teams, including the victory at Oregon that keyed the Cardinal taking the North Division title.

"It's been a good month," Hogan said.

Hogan is already notorious for two things: poise and a desire not to talk about himself. It's better to have others talk about him, a signal-caller who can do damage with his arm and legs.

"He's an impressive kid," Mora said. "He's very poised. He's careful with the ball. He makes good decisions."

Shaw said Hogan's "ceiling is very high" and that his poise is "innate."

"You don't train a guy like that," Shaw said. "You find a guy like that."

Hogan completed 16 of 22 passes for 153 yards and rushed for 49 yards on 11 carries. But the biggest number is this: No turnovers for the Cardinal offense. On a day when UCLA was statistically superior, that might have been the difference.

"You're a freshman?" Thomas joked with Hogan on the podium during a postgame news conference, then turning back to reporters. "He sure doesn't play like one."

Stanford hasn't played in a Rose Bowl since losing to Wisconsin after the 1999 season. Shaw is the Pac-12 Coach of the Year. The Cardinal has won at least 10 games in three consecutive seasons for the first time in their history.

There are probably a few folks who don't believe they will do it a fourth time in 2013. At least, that's what they hope in the Cardinal locker room. Not that they care what you think. But they know you think that.

Remember: These guys are nerds. They know things.

Said Shaw, "We expect to be good again next year."

Video: Stanford coach David Shaw

November, 30, 2012

Stanford coach David Shaw talks about winning the Pac-12 title game over UCLA, 27-24, and what it means for his program.

Instant analysis: Stanford 27, UCLA 24

November, 30, 2012

PALO ALTO, Calif. — Here's a quick take on Stanford's 27-24 victory over UCLA in the Pac-12 championship game:

It was over when: It was over only when UCLA kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn missed a 51-yard field goal attempt that would have tied the score with 39 seconds left.

Game ball goes to: UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin, who was shut down in last week's meeting, gained 201 yards on 18 carries with two touchdowns. It was a brilliant effort.

Stat of the game: 1-0. That was the turnover total in favor of Stanford. And UCLA's turnover was a Brett Hundley interception that was returned 80 yards by Ed Reynolds to the Bruins' 1-yard line, which set up the tying score at 14-14. It was big.

Stat of the game II: UCLA gained 282 yards rushing after getting just 73 in last week's game. But it didn't matter.

Unsung hero of the game: Stanford redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan was again unflappable. He completed 16 of 22 passes for 153 yards with a 26-yard touchdown. He also rushed for 49 yards on 11 carries with a score.

What it means: It means Stanford is headed to the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. UCLA likely ends up in the Alamo Bowl.

Halftime: Stanford 17, UCLA 14

November, 30, 2012
PALO ALTO, Calif. -- UCLA started fast, serving notice that its offense wouldn't get dominated as it was last weekend, but Stanford answered and used a 37-yard field goal on the final play before halftime to go up 17-14.

UCLA had 266 yards at the half, including 168 yards rushing. It had 334 total yards and 73 rushing in last week's 35-17 loss to the Cardinal.

Still, the biggest play was a mistake from Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley. Stanford safety Ed Reynolds grabbed an errant pass and rambled 80 yards to the Bruins 1-yard line (it looked like Reynolds' fourth pick-six of the season, but the officials said no and it held up on review).

At the time, UCLA was driving with a 14-7 lead. Stepfan Taylor tied the game on the next play.

Then both defenses seemed to settle in, at least until Stanford went 62 yards to set up the go-ahead field goal.

Taylor rushed for 39 yards in the first half and became Stanford's all-time leading rusher, breaking Darrin Nelson's record.

UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin rushed for 118 yards on 10 carries, including a 51-yard touchdown. Stanford QB Kevin Hogan completed 10 of 12 passes for 93 yards and rushed for 42 yards on eight carries.

Video: Pac-12 title game preview

November, 30, 2012

Ted Miller takes a final look at the Pac-12 championship game between Stanford and UCLA.


False Start For College Football Season?
Danny Kanell and Adam Rittenberg look back on Texas A&M and South Carolina from week 1. Did the first big game of the season point us in the wrong direction?


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