The UCLA Bruins will not represent the South division in the Pac-12 Championship game. And the Bruins have no one to blame but themselves.
All Jim Mora‘s squad had to do was beat the underachieving 6-5 Stanford Cardinal. UCLA may not have beaten Stanford during the last six years, but this season was supposed to be different.
The Bruins were ranked eighth overall, and there were conversations during the week that UCLA could sneak into the backdoor of the College Football Playoff after three impressive victories against the Arizona Wildcats, Washington Huskies and the rival USC Trojans.
Stanford didn’t get the message.
The Cardinal played like the program it had been during previous seasons. David Shaw’s squad dominated at the point of attack and controlled the clock. This led to Stanford claiming a decisive 31-10 victory to extend their winning streak over UCLA to seven straight games.
UCLA took an early lead, though, when quarterback Brett Hundley completed a 15-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Thomas Duarte. Stanford responded with a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to tie the game 7-7.
However, the second quarter belonged to the Cardinal.
During the second frame, Stanford ran 19 plays on two drives and gained 167 yards. Both drives ended in touchdowns. With 21-10 halftime, the game was essentially over for UCLA.
Stanford extended its streak of outscoring UCLA to 14 straight halves when it scored 10 more points in the second half of Friday’s contest.
The biggest difference in the game proved to be the play of the quarterbacks.
While Hundley, a junior, celebrated with the seniors because he is expected to leave UCLA for the NFL, Stanford’s Kevin Hogan was the most impressive signal-caller on the field.
Hogan began the game 12-of-12 passing. He was efficient and particularly deadly on third down. Stanford’s junior quarterback finished the game 16-of-19 passing for 234 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Hundley, meanwhile, never got into a groove and struggled to lead his offense before leaving the game with what appeared to be an injured throwing hand. During Hundley’s last game at the Rose Bowl, the quarterback was only 17-of-32 passing for a meager 146 yards and a touchdown.
Both teams are bowl eligible, but Stanford once again proved to the biggest obstacle for a team hoping to go to the Pac-12 Championship Game.