CFN Analysis: Stanford 35, UCLA 17
In Round One, Stanford beat the Bruins to get to the Pac-12 championship
Neither Oregon nor USC is in the Pac-12 title game. Raise your hand if you anticipated that unlikely development back in August.
No matter what anyone on the UCLA coaching staff says this week, there's no way that the Bruins were playing at anywhere close to full speed on Saturday. It's impossible after last week's emotional win over USC, coupled with the prospect of traveling to Eugene if Stanford lost its grip on the North Division today.
Of course, that takes nothing away from Stanford, which is actually a win away from returning to the Rose Bowl in January, something the school never did while Jim Harbaugh was on the sidelines or when Andrew Luck was behind center.
Six days is not nearly enough time for UCLA QB Brett Hundley to erase from his memory the beating that the Stanford front seven put on him. The veteran Cardinal D has now held Oregon and the Bruins well below their season scoring average in consecutive games.
For those in the offseason who suggested Stanford RB Stepfan Taylor would regress now that Luck and a few elite linemen were gone, how's that prognostication working out for you? The senior has motored for well over 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns, despite being saddled with a vanilla, inefficient passing attack.
By Matt Zemek
E-mail Matt Zemek
The particular details of Stanford's easy win over UCLA on Saturday evening are not worth a lot of time, attention or detail. The Cardinal and the Bruins will get together on Nov. 30 to play a game of equal consequence for both teams. UCLA's loss actually helps the Bruins – they won't have to go back to Autzen Stadium for the Pac-12 Championship Game. They're a lot better than they were last year, but the prospect of a repeat journey to Eugene for a game number 13 could not have been particularly enticing. It's next week when the full measure of the Bruins will be taken. It's next week when Jim Mora, Jr., will have a shot to bring UCLA to the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 1999 game against Wisconsin.
The story of this game is not the game itself, but the outcome it has created: Stanford – without Andrew Luck – has ended Oregon's three-year reign as Pac-12 (formerly Pac-10) champion. A fellow named Chip Kelly developed the Oregon program to the point that it was able to overtake Pete Carroll's USC empire for Pac-10 supremacy in 2009. Now, David Shaw – not Jim Harbaugh, mind you – has been able to stop Kelly's run as the leader of the Pac. Shaw hasn't yet won a Pac-12 title, but he has indeed prevented Oregon from claiming another conference crown. No one else did… or could.
That's a loud, ringing demonstration of excellence.
What's even more fascinating in a larger context is that much as Kelly conquered Carroll the year before USC's dynamic coach bolted for the pro ranks, Shaw just might have defeated Kelly a year before Oregon's boss heads for the NFL. No one knows if it will happen. If it does, though, history will have repeated itself in the Pac-12, three years after Chip Kelly began his reign.
The king is dead in Eugene. Long live David Shaw… at least until next Friday night.
By Phil Harrison
Follow me @PhilHarrisonCFN
- Part one is in the books, the sequel is coming next week. Let's hope it's TONS better than "The Hangover 2."
- And with that, Oregon will be sitting home, needing help to have any shot to getting to the BCS national championship. The Ducks needed UCLA to take down the Cardinal but the Bruins seemed like a disinterested bunch knowing that it had a shot for a conference title next week either way.
- So, we have a very rare situation indeed of a back-to-back week matchup of the same teams. This time though, it'll be in Palo Alto rather than in the Rose Bowl. Note to Ohio State and Michigan fans-- this is what you want The Game to possibly be relegated to? Please no.
- Oregon has to be sweating bullets. With Florida's win earlier in the day, the Ducks need some help to get to Miami, and there will now be no conference championship game to boost its BCS ranking. Some losses are more damaging than others. Oregon's close loss at home to Stanford was a seismic jolt to the collective hopes of Chip Kelly and crew.
- Where would Stanford be if it made the decision to go with Kevin Hogan earlier. The Cardinal have had much more punch on offense once he was given the keys to the Tree's engine.
- Who else thought Stanford would slide this year with the loss of Andrew Luck in combination with year two of losing Jim Harbaugh? David Shaw doesn't get enough credit for what he has done in his first two years by the bay.
- It's interesting that Stanford's throwback style is now hard for the typical Pac-12 teams to handle. By being a dinosaur, teams like the Cardinal and Wisconsin Badgers are now hard to prepare for. The offenses and defenses are geared more for the wide-open attack of today's game.
By Terry Johnson
Follow me @TPJCollFootball
- Is anyone really looking forward to a rematch of this game on Friday night?
- Believe it or not, the only thing stopping the Pac 12 from winning the national championship is the Pac 12. For the second straight year, the highest ranked team in the conference failed to win its own division. That ought to speak volumes about the depth of the league.
- How big is the missed TD call against Notre Dame now? If Stanford only had one loss, they'd be a virtual lock to play in the BCS title game.
- After stuffing Johnathan Franklin, it's clear that the Cardinal have the best run defense in the country. Sure, Florida State led the nation that category coming into tonight's action, but Stanford's D has played against much better competition this year, including Oregon, Notre Dame, and Arizona.
- However, the reason that the Cardinal front seven earned the game ball was because they sacked Brett Hundley seven times, including three times in the fourth quarter when it looked like the Bruins were going to mount a comeback.
- While the Pac 12 Newcomer of the Year likely go to Marcus Mariotta or Brett Hundley, Kevin Hogan certainly belongs in the discussion. In just four starts, he's already collected three wins against ranked teams. Most QBs don't accomplish that feat in an entire season.
- Expect to see a more disciplined Bruins team in the conference championship game. There's no way UCLA can beat Stanford by committing 135 yards worth of penalties.