PASADENA, Calif. — The Stanford Cardinal chose to be concerned strictly about themselves on Saturday. That was all that was necessary, and it worked to perfection.
Stepfan Taylor rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns, Kevin Hogan passed for 160 yards and another score, and the 11th-ranked Cardinal beat No. 15 UCLA 35-17 to earn the Pac-12 North title and a rematch with the Bruins in the conference championship game next week.
The Cardinal (10-2, 8-1 Pac-12) had to win to qualify for another shot at the Bruins on Friday at home because No. 5 Oregon (11-1, 8-1) beat No. 16 Oregon State 48-24 in a matchup that finished about 10 minutes before Stanford and UCLA began their game at the Rose Bowl. But coach David Shaw and several of his players swore they didn’t know the outcome of the Oregon-Oregon State game until after their triumph over the Bruins.
“Didn’t watch the game, didn’t think it was important," Shaw said of the matchup in Corvallis. “The only thing that matters is what happens on our field. It’s inconsequential. It didn’t matter. For true competitors, we’ve got a football game to play, we’re going to play it. And our guys approached it that way."
The Cardinal, who have three straight 10-win seasons for the first time, handed Oregon a 17-14 overtime setback last weekend to put themselves in position to win the North title with a victory over the Pac-12 South champion Bruins (9-3, 6-3), who earned their berth in the title game by beating Southern California 38-28 last weekend.
Regarding next Friday’s game, Shaw said: “I expect them to give us everything. I expect this to be a very tough, physical game. It’s going to be 10 times harder than this game was. We’re going to get their best shot."
The win was the sixth straight for Stanford and their fourth in a row over UCLA, which had a five-game winning streak snapped — its longest in seven years.
“Congratulations to Stanford. They played a heck of a game and they’re a heck of a football team," UCLA coach Jim Mora said. “We have some things that we have to do to get better by Friday night. We’ll get right back to work. We wanted to win this game today. We came up short. There is a lot to learn. We did not play as well as we can."
Hogan, a redshirt freshman making his third start, completed 15 of 22 passes without being intercepted and was sacked twice. He has guided the Cardinal to wins over three straight ranked opponents, something they had never accomplished before.
Brett Hundley, UCLA’s redshirt freshman quarterback, was 20 of 38 for 261 yards and a TD with one interception while being sacked seven times.
Leading 21-10, the Cardinal broke the game open by scoring twice in a 13-second span midway through the third quarter. Taylor scored on a 1-yard run four plays after Jordan Richards intercepted Hundley’s pass at the UCLA 42-yard line. Alex Debniak forced a fumble by Kenneth Walker on the ensuing kickoff and Usua Amanam returned it 11 yards for another TD.