Before Jim Harbaugh arrived at Stanford for the 2007 season, the Cardinal were 1-11. In the past three years, Stanford has won no fewer than 11 games and will be appearing in its third straight BCS bowl game. David Shaw‘s eighth-ranked team defeated No. 17 UCLA 27-24 in the Pac-12 championship game on Friday. It was the second win over the Bruins in as many weeks.
The win gives Stanford its first Rose Bowl berth since after the 1999 season — a 17-9 loss to Wisconsin. As it turns out, there’s the possibility that the Cardinal and the Badgers could meet in the Rose Bowl again this postseason. Wisconsin will play Nebraska tomorrow in the Big Ten championship.
As for tonight’s game, it was UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin who earned MVP recognition — in our hearts, that is; Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan officially earned MVP status — for putting up 201 yards on the ground against one of the best run defenses in the country. In fact, Franklin had more yards on the ground by himself than Stanford did with five players (170 yards).
But Franklin’s big day wasn’t enough. The Bruins got out to a fast start in the first quarter, but couldn’t muster much after that. UCLA scored on just two of its next nine offensive possessions. The loss keeps a glimmer of BCS hope alive for Boise State and Northern Illinois, two non-automatic qualifier schools ranked on the outside of the BCS top 16. NIU beat Kent State earlier tonight to secure the program’s second straight MAC title, but both NIU and Boise State need help this weekend to make it into the top 16, which would secure a BCS bowl berth.
The Cardinal now rides a seven-game win streak and is playing as well as any team in college football.