Pac-12 Championship Game set
PASADENA, Calif. -- Stanford came into the Rose Bowl on Saturday looking for a win to keep its Pac-12 title hopes alive and a return trip to Pasadena on the table. The Cardinal not only took home a victory but delivered an emphatic statement that they should be considered among the nation's best with a 35-17 win over UCLA.
The Pac-12 Football Championship Game match-up and location now are set.
Stanford clinched the Pac-12 North Division on Saturday while UCLA already had the Pac-12 South sewed up. The Cardinal own the better conference record and will host the Football Championship Game at Stanford Stadium on Friday night. Kickoff is 5 p.m. PT on FOX.
[Related: Contact the Stanford ticket office for Pac-12 Football Championship Game tickets]
Running back Stepfan Taylor topped the 4,000 yard mark for his career and was the workhorse of an offense that was efficient throughout Saturday's contest. In the second straight road start of his young career, Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan was able to move the chains with both his feet and his arm, avoiding an attacking UCLA defense all night and generally playing mistake-free.
UCLA threatened to make it a game for most of the first half but turnovers turned a close game into a runaway. After giving up a quick touchdown drive on defense, Bruins return man Kenneth Walker fumbled the ensuing kickoff after a vicious hit by Stanford linebacker Alex Debniak. Usua Amanam recovered the ball and ran it back for a short score to push the Cardinal's lead to 35-10 in the middle of the 3rd quarter. The final outcome was never in doubt after that.
[Related column: Stanford saw only one path to the Pac-12 North Championship]
The Cardinal have not won the conference since 1999, when an improbable run to the Pac-10 title resulted in a trip to the Rose Bowl. Last season, in the first year of divisional play with 12 teams, Stanford tied Oregon in the North but did not reach the championship game due to a loss to the Ducks.
This year they'll get their chance to hoist the Pac-12 football championship trophy and could do so at home.