Hunger Game — The more-needy Stanford Cardinal overpowers UCLA 35-17 to force a rematch with the Bruins next Friday in Palo Alto, when both teams will have the same amount at stake
There’s an old saying in Sports: The team that “wants it more” usually wins. And wanting it more usually comes from motivation — How badly do you NEED to win a game? In Saturday’s match-up between Stanford and UCLA at the Rose Bowl, the Bruins had a lot less to play for. They were already guaranteed a spot in Friday’s Pac-12 Championship game, while Stanford had to win to get in. That extra urgency was evident, as a more fired-up Stanford team thoroughly handled UCLA 35-17.
UCLA wasn’t just going through the motions. It wasn’t a meaningless game — Even though the earlier Oregon victory had taken home field advantage in the Championship game off the table, an elusive and unprecedented 12-win season was still there for the taking, as well as a chance to end up in the National Rankings’ Top Ten. But Stanford’s do-or-die scenario proved a much bigger motivator.
Stanford scored first on a long drive, then UCLA tied it up with a drive of their own, culminating with another diving TD catch by Joseph Fauria. But then Stanford took over the game, scoring twice more to take a 21-7 lead. UCLA got a personal-best Field Goal of 48 yards by Ka’imi Fairbairn to make it 21-10 at the break, but that momentum was short-lived. In the 3rd quarter, Stanford scored a TD, then scored again when the ensuing Kickoff was fumbled and the ball was returned for their second TD in less than a minute. That score made it 35-10. The Bruins scored one more time, but never threatened to make a game of it.
Too many drops, and WAY too many penalties did the Bruins in. Jerry Johnson and Darius Bell dropped passes that killed drives, but it wouldn’t have mattered that much, as Stanford was controlling the line of scrimmage, and probably would have responded if the Bruins had actually scored again.
So yes, I said it was all about the will to win, but it was apparent that Stanford was the better team. They won the battle of the trenches, and made the big plays when they needed them the most. Smart money HAS to be on Stanford to beat UCLA again next week in Stanford Stadium, in front of a raucous home crowd, especially based on their superiority on Saturday evening.
However, there is another old saying in Sports: It’s very hard to beat a good team twice in a row, and UCLA IS a good team. Coach Mora and staff will make adjustments, and the Bruins should give the Trees a much better game. It should start with the LEGS of Bruin QB Brett Hundley. Hundley was adept at buying time on Saturday evening, but he didn’t get rid of the ball when he should have, and he scrambled only once. And that one time, he gained 38 yards. He needs to tuck and run more often, to exploit Stanford’s Defense.
With a berth in the Rose Bowl game at stake for both teams, the desperation factor should be even, and the game itself should be more even, but the Bruins should definitely be underdogs, and will need to play with MUCH MORE DISCIPLINE if they want to pull off the upset.
Speaking of upsets, u$c did NOT pull one off on Saturday night, as #1 Notre Dame beat the Barkley-less trojans, 22-13. That gives sc a whopping FIVE losses in a season where they were expected to be BCS Champions. Truly one of the biggest disappointments in the history of BCS polling.
And now for something NOT disappointing: Here are 35 photos from the game and pre-game rally. I have another 75 or so, all of the Spirit Squad, but it might be a while before I post them, as I go back to work on Monday, with 70-hour weeks if I’m lucky, 80 if I’m not. Don’t forget to CLICK on the pics, especially the horizontal ones, to enlarge them to fill a widescreen computer monitor. You can zoom in quite a bit on lots of them, including the last 8 Dance Team shots.