Welcome to The Daily’s live blog of tonight’s Pac-12 Championship Game between No. 8 Stanford and No. 17 UCLA. We’ll be updating this page with instant coverage and analysis. Please refresh this page for the most recent updates. All times are Pacific.
4:20 PM: Good evening, everyone. We’re less than an hour away from kickoff as No. 8 Stanford (10-2, 8-1) hosts No. 16 UCLA (9-3, 6-3) in the 2012 Pac-12 Championship Game. The winner of tonight’s contest earns a coveted invitation to the Rose Bowl, played in Pasadena on New Year’s Day. Thanks for joining us.
4:22 PM: Just six days ago, Stanford went down to Pasadena and clobbered UCLA 35-17 to secure the Pac-12 North Division title. It’s the first time since 1937 that two college football teams have against each other twice within a week. Strange and tricky as the situation may be, head coach David Shaw has repeatedly stressed that last week’s outcome has no bearing on this game as the slate is wiped clean for round two. It’s all or nothing for the two teams: winner goes to the Rose Bowl, loser settles for a non-BCS bowl.
4:33 PM: There was heavy rain earlier today, but the weather forecast indicates that the storm has passed. Reports have been saying that the sideline is muddy and torn up, but the tarp that was laid overnight might have salvaged the playing field.
4:34 PM: Stanford was completely written off by the media in the preseason, as most people predicted a USC-Oregon postseason showdown. When Stanford clinched a spot in the title game last weekend, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott probably face-palmed himself, locked himself in a dark room and started crying because of how much revenue the Pac-12 just lost from Stanford hosting the championship game – revenue that Oregon’s Autzen Stadium or USC’s Coliseum would have assuredly brought in.
4:37 PM: But the Cardinal doesn’t care about revenues. There’s only one thing on the minds of Stanford players and coaches. Stanford has not been to the Rose Bowl since 2000 and tonight, the Cardinal hopes to end that drought.
4:51 PM: Stanford players are wrapping up their warmup session right now. Stadium is starting to fill slowly, but surely.
4:55 PM: Most of the teams in the Pac-12 are banged up, but Stanford has found a way to stay remarkably healthy so far this season (knock on wood). However, the team will be without its starting punter Daniel Zychlinski tonight, as the fifth-year senior left last week’s game with his arm in a sling. Zychinski played a huge role in allowing the Cardinal to win the field position battle against Oregon a couple weeks ago and is also one of the most consistent holders in the nation, according to Shaw. Backup punter Ben Rhyne looks to step up today.
4:59 PM: Stanford band on the field now. Taking names as usual.
5:05 PM: The game trophy is being brought out to midfield on a platform for everyone to see. The Pac-12′s fancy, huh?
5:06 PM: The platform even lights up and rotates like a merry-go-round. Nice.
5:08 PM: Stanford players rushes out of the tunnel. They’re donning all-black uniforms and helmets tonight. Shooting fireworks accompany their entrance. The Pac-12 really going all-out.
5:16 PM: Countdown to kickoff at three minutes now.
5:17 PM: UCLA won the toss and has elected to receive.
5:20 PM: Williamson boots it and we’re off…
5:21 PM: Bruins returner slipped as soon as he touched the ball. Field condition might be worse than it looks.
5:22 PM: Quarterback Brett Hundley and Co. will set up shop at their own 15-yard line to start the opening drive. There were speculations the Bruins kept it conservative on offense last Saturday, despite denials from head coach Jim Mora. That being said, the Bruins might utilize Hundley’s abilities as a runner more tonight.
5:22 PM: Running back Jonathan Franklin almost broke free for a 75-yard touchdown. Henry Anderson’s ankle tackle saves the score.
5:23 PM: Bruins pick up another another first down, near midfield now.
5:28 PM: Franklin bolts loose and scores a 51-yard touchdown. Play was reviewed, but the the touchdown stands. Ka’imi Fairbarin’s extra point is GOOD. UCLA takes an early 7-0 lead with 11:35 left in the first quarter.
5:33 PM: With that touchdown run, Franklin has almost as many rushing yards as he had the entire game last week.
5:33 PM: UCLA sent out a loud and clear message on that drive: It’s not going to hand the game to Stanford like it did last week.
5:34 PM: Stanford offense takes over at its own 31-yard line. Can the Cardinal answer?
5:35 PM: Cardinal shockingly goes no-huddle, but the dividend is only a 2-yard completion to Zach Ertz.
5:37 PM: The Bruins plugging up all the gaps on this drive. Stepfan Taylor hasn’t seen any daylight.
5:39 PM: Huge option read run by Hogan allows Stanford to convert third-and-long.
5:41 PM: Full back Hewitt’s 2-yard pickup on 4th-and-1 gives Stanford a new set of downs at the UCLA 34-yard line.
5:43 PM: Hogan fakes handoff to Taylor, fools everyone on UCLA’s defense and walks into the endzone with the keeper. Williamson’s PAT is GOOD and Stanford knots up the score at 7 apiece with 6:07 left in the first quarter.
5:44 PM: Textbook Stanford drive. Let’s see if the defense can bounce back after uncharacteristically giving up a touchdown on the first drive.
5:47 PM: UCLA in love with the screens early in the game. No reason why they shouldn’t be – it’s working.
5:48 PM: Shayne Skov records the first sack of the night for Stanford. Hundley made a nice move, but not nice enough to get by Skov.
5:49 PM: And that’s what UCLA didn’t show last weekend. Hundley gashes the Cardinal on a 48-yard scramble.
5:51 PM: Cardinal has no answer for Hundley’s legs as the redshirt freshman gets out to the edge and dashes in for a 5-yard touchdown. The XP is GOOD and UCLA leads 14-7 with 3:32 left in the first quarter.
5:57 PM: Hogan rolls out to his left and finds Ertz for an 8-yard completion, good enough for a first down. That play should be there all night.
5:58 PM: Hogan scrambles on back-to-back plays. Checkdown to Taylor was available that time, but he didn’t take it. Cardinal forced to punt.
6:01 PM: Stanford defense cannot, must not give up a touchdown on this drive, or this game could get out of hand quickly.
6:02 PM: Defensie end Josh Mauro sacks Hundley to end the first quarter. Score is UCLA 14, Stanford 7.
6:03 PM: UCLA is stretching out the field with its receivers, giving Franklin a lot of space to work with.
6:07 PM: Add play-action pass to tight end Joseph Fauria to the mix, and this Bruins offense looks a hundred times more potent than last week.
6:09 PM: Ed Reynolds picks off Hundley and returns it 80 yards to the UCLA 1-yard line. That’s Reynolds’ sixth interception of the season.
6:11 PM: HUGE momentum changer. Wow.
6:12 PM: Play is under review. The ball seemed to have crossed the plane when Reynolds’ knees were down. Still, a breathtaking INT that gives Reynolds 301 interception return yards for the season, which leads the nation by almost 150 yards.
6:13 PM: Officials deny Reynolds what would have been his fourth pick six of the season, a Pac-12 and school record. But no harm done, as Taylor punches it in on the very next play for a 1-yard touchdown rush. Williamson’s PAT is GOOD and Stanford once again pulls even with UCLA 14-14 with 12:57 left in the second quarter.
6:18 PM: Stanford forces UCLA to go three-and-out for the first tonight. Chase Thomas exploded into the backfield to take down Hundley on third-and-five at the Bruins 26. The Cardinal can take its first lead of the game with a score here.
6:23 PM: Five-yard reception by Jamal-Rashad Patterson sets up third-and-four at the UCLA 45-yard line.
6:24 PM: Kelsey Young shows off his outside speed, bounces outside to pick up a big first down for Stanford. The Cardinal approaching field goal range.
6:26 PM: Anthony Barr’s sack on Kevin Hogan on third-and-five forces the Cardinal out of field range. That’s the first time Hogan has been taken down in the backfield, but it came at a bad time. Long field goal by Williamson would’ve given Stanford a three-point lead. Instead, punting unit comes in.
6:27 PM: Holding penalty pushes UCLA back ten yards to its 15-yard line.
6:32 PM: Another three-and-out by the Bruins. With 4:47 left in the second quarter, it’s perfect time for Hogan to engineer a first-half-ending touchdown drive.
6:34 PM: Taylor is three yards away from breaking Darrin Nelson’s all-time rushing record. Should do it on this drive.
6:35 PM: No blocking by the offensive line on first down. Taylor stopped in the backfield for a three-yard loss.
6:36 PM: Poor pass by Hogan, who overthrows Hewitt on third-and-nine. Wouldn’t have been enough for the first down anyways. After the first quarter’s offensive explosion, the two teams are trading inconsequential drive here.
6:40 PM: Bruins drive marred by yet another holding penalty. Third-and-10.
6:41 PM: UCLA converts that one, but stalls at the Stanford 42-yard line. The Cardinal will get one more shot to put points on the scoreboard before halftime. 1:31 and two timeouts left.
6:44 PM: Hogan working out of the shotgun now. Picks up two first downs with his feet.
6:46 PM: Shaw takes a second timeout with 55 seconds left. We haven’t seen much of Ertz yet. Will that change as Stanford drives deeper into Bruins territory.
6:48 PM: Holding penalty pushes Stanford back to its own 30-yard line.
6:49 PM: With that 10-yard run, Taylor eclipses Darrin Nelson to be Stanford’s all-time leading rusher. Congratulations, Stepfan.
6:50 PM: Williamson comes out for a 37-yard field goal attempt.
6:51 PM: Williamson’s kick is GOOD. Stanford heads into the locker room with a 17-14 halftime lead.
7:03 PM: Given how UCLA’s offense manhandled Stanford in the first quarter, I think the Cardinal should be happy with any kind of lead at the half, even if there were missed opportunities.
7:04 PM: Stanford will get the ball first to start out the third quarter. Extending the lead to ten points right off the bat would be huge.
7:04 PM: The Cardinal’s offensive line hasn’t been getting much of a push at all. Though effective in the screen game, Taylor has only rushed for 48 yards on 8 carries. Hogan actually leads the team in the ground game, gaining 45 yards on 8 attempts. The redshirt freshman has been quietly efficient again, completing 10-of-12 passes for 95 yards. However, he has not connected at all with Zach Ertz, the team’s biggest weapon when it comes to the passing game. The John Mackey Award finalist has been a non-factor, hauling in just two receptions for 10 yards.
7:08 PM: Players are heading back out on to the field now. Five minutes until the second half begins.
7:12 PM: Again, you can’t overstate the importance of Reynolds’ 80-yard interception (should’ve been touchdown) return in early minutes of the second quarter. Difference between Stanford drawing even and falling behind by two touchdowns. Hundley also hasn’t been the same after that pick.
7:15 PM: Fairbarin drills it out of the endzone. The Cardinal opens its drive from the 25-yard line.
7:16 PM: Hogan working from the pistol formation. Can’t find anyone down field and dances around for a bit before getting taken down for a 2-yard loss.
7:18 PM: Only a 30-yard punt by Rhyne awards Bruins great field position at its own 40.
7:20 PM: UCLA running a lot of jet sweeps before the snap. Testing Stanford’s discipline.
7:21 PM: Another monster run by Franklin. That one went for 30 yards before three Stanford defenders had to wrestle him down.
7:25 PM: Stanford’s defense bends, but doesn’t break. 31-yard field goal coming up for Fairbarin.
7:25 PM: Fairbarin’s field goal is GOOD and UCLA evens up the score at 17.
7:27 PM: Franklin now has 149 yards on just 12 carries. He’s a Doak Walker Award finalist for a reason, but the Cardinal defense is also giving up too many big holes in the middle of the field.
7:29 PM: Anthony Wilkerson lines up out of the Wildcat. He got into the end zone on that play last week, but gains on three yards this time.
7:31 PM: Defensive pass interference called on UCLA’s Aaron Hester gives Stanford new life at its own 38-yard line. Had it not been for the penalty, Stanford would have had its second straight three-and-out.
7:33 PM: UCLA’s defense doing a better job of keeping Hogan in the pocket in the third quarter.
7:33 PM: Not sure why Shaw decided to remain conservative on third-and-six with a draw play. Rolling out Hogan would’ve been more effective.
7:34 PM: Rhyne makes amends for his previous error with a 56-yard bomb. With 5:34 left in the third, UCLA gets the ball back at its own 20-yard line.
7:39 PM: Bruins moving the ball well now, driving to the Stanford 37-yard line.
7:47 PM: Hundley’s keeper converts the third down. Plenty of missed tackles there.
7:47 PM: Franklin rumbles into the endzone for a 20-yard touchdown. The XP is GOOD and UCLA takes the lead, 24-17.
7:51 PM: Bad sign for Stanford, especially with its offense moving nowhere.
7:52: But A great return by Kelsey Young and a 17-yard pass completion on third down puts the Cardinal right back in Bruins territory. And that’s the end of the third quarter. Fifteen minutes left in regulation to determine who goes to the Rose Bowl.
7:57 PM: Official crowd attendance tonight: 31,622
7:57 PM: Stanford bailed out by defensive penalty on UCLA for the third time tonight.
7:59 PM: Gutsy run call on third-and-three. Works that time. First down at UCLA 21-yard line.
8:00 PM: Hogan makes a young quarterback mistake there. Tried to pick up yards instead of throwing it away, results in a loss of one.
8:02 PM: There’s something to be said about Hogan playing fearlessly, though. He finds Drew Terrell in the back of the endzone for a 26-yard touchdown. Williamson’s PAT is GOOD and the game is all tied up at 24.
8:05 PM: So much for a boring rematch. Pac-12 Championship Game is turning into a real nail-biter.
8:08 PM: Momentum swing coming into full force. Back-to-back penalties force UCLA to punt from its own 9-yard line. Dangerous territory here for the Bruins.
8:10 PM: Terrell playing out of his mind. Makes three defenders miss on the punt return for 18 yards, hands his team best field position of night at the UCLA 43-yard line.
8:11 PM: A roar of approval from the crowd as Andrew Luck makes an appearance on the big screen.
8:12 PM: THE WILDCAT ACTUALLY WORKED. The speedy Kelsey Young gains 23. First-and-ten at the Bruins 20-yard line.
8:15 PM: Ertz gets his third reception of the night, good for nine yards.
8:16 PM: Hogan takes a shot down field, goes back to Ertz again. Worked against Oregon, but falls incomplete on that play. Williamson comes out for a 36-yard field goal.
8:18 PM: Solid as a rock. Williamson’s field goal sails through the uprights and Stanford takes a 27-24 lead with 6:49 left in the game.
8:19 PM: Stanford defense needs to hold off UCLA for 6 minutes and 49 seconds to punch its ticket to the Rose Bowl. Easier said than done.
8:20 PM: Crowd coming alive.
8:21 PM: Cardinal gives up two first downs right off the bat. Not a good start.
8:22 PM: Make that three first downs in a row.
8:23 PM: Defense tightens. Hundley nowhere to go. Third-and-13 at the Stanford 45-yard line. Could be the play of the game coming up.
8:24 PM: A.J. Tarpley, who picked off Marcus Mariota a couples weeks ago, breaks up the pass. Almost came up with the pick, but the Cardinal will take the stop.
8:26 PM: This is it, folks. With 4:39 left in the game, Stanford has the ball and the lead. This is when champions are made.
8:27 PM: The Cardinal’s offensive line will be forgiven for its spotty play all game if it steps up on this drive and seal the deal for the Cardinal.
8:28 PM: Taylor gets the ball rolling with a 7-yard pickup.
8:29 PM: Taylor picks up one more on the next play. Third-and-2. UCLA uses its last timeout.
8:30 PM: HUGE 11-yard run by Hogan. First down at the Stanford 40. Clock running
8:31 PM: Bruins lock down on Taylor on consecutive plays. Third-and-nine. A first down here would seal the game.
8:31 PM: Shaw calls a timeout to avoid the delay of game penalty.
8:32 PM: Costly drop by Toilolo. Would’ve taken 40 more seconds off the clock. Rhyne on to punt.
8:33 PM: Stanford puts the game on its defense’s shoulder. Could this be more fitting of an ending?
8:35 PM: Costly roughing the passer penalty gives UCLA the ball at its own 44-yard line.
8:36 PM: Third-and-6 with 1:06 left in the game.
8:37 PM: Franklin makes his only mistake of the game with that drop. Fourth-and-7. THIS IS IT.
8:37 PM: Franklin completes it to Fauria. UCLA at the Stanford 40. Not quite in field goal range yet.
8:38 PM: Fairbarin to attempt a 52-yard field goal.
8:39 PM: KICK IS NO GOOD. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO GOOD. STANFORD GOES TO THE ROSE BOWL.
8:42 PM: Kevin Hogan named MVP.