Stepfan Taylor rushed for 142 yards and scored two touchdowns in three quarters of playing time as the 11th-ranked Stanford football team qualified for the Pac-12 championship game with a 35-17 victor over host UCLA in a Pac-12 season finale Saturday night.
Still, Stanford will certainly find several things about Saturday's to worry over.
There were the fumbles that somehow ended up in Stanford hands, expect for one that led to a Bruins' touchdown. There was the interception that wasn't because of UCLA's proclivity for penalties, and there was some sloppy play all the way around.
Then again, there was also Stepfan Taylor, who rushed for 142 yards and a pair of touchdowns and there was the continued development of redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan. And there were the defensive highlight that included seven more sacks and nine more tackles for a loss.
The Cardinal (8-1, 10-2) produced its third straight 10-win season for the first time in school history and won the Pac-12 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 USC, 38-28, last weekend.
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.
Taylor, who sat out the final quarter, upped his career rushing total to 4,134 yards, becoming just the second member of the exclusive 4,000-yard club at Stanford. He needs 36 yards to surpass the 4,169 yards set by Darrin Nelson in 1977-81.
In just his third start, Hogan found himself part of the history books after completing 15 of 22 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown. He has led the Cardinal to victories over three consecutive ranked opponents, something Stanford had never accomplished.
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 a pass at the UCLA 42-yard line, and Alex Debniak forced a fumble by Kenneth Walker on the ensuing kickoff and Usua Amanam returned it 11 yards for another touchdown.
UCLA cut Stanford's lead to 18 points, and it appeared the Bruins got another shot early in the fourth quarter on Jordan Zumwalt's interception in Cardinal territory, but it was nullified by a defensive holding penalty.
Stanford's Jordan Williamson hit the crossbar on a 45-yard field goal attempt with 9:46 remaining, but the Bruins lost the ball on downs after getting as far as the Stanford 38. UCLA reached the Cardinal 14 before turning the ball over on downs again with 2:30 left.
Stanford punter Daniel Zychlinski, also the team's holder, was knocked out of the game after taking a hit trying to get a kick away.
The Cardinal has won 12 of its last 13 games played in November dating to Nov. 28, 2009 . . . Entering the game, Stanford owned the No. 1 scoring defense in the Pac-12, allowing 16.91 points per game, which ranks t-10th in the nation . . . The Cardinal has not allowed an opponent to score more than 20 points on the road this season and has held an opponent to 20 points or less in 10 of its last 12 games . . . Stanford entered the contest ranked second nationally with 46.0 sacks. The Cardinal managed 7.0 sacks against UCLA to help break the school record of 48.0 previously set in 1999 . . . Stanford entered the contest ranked second in the NCAA in rushing defense (71.18 yards/game). The Cardinal held the Bruins to 73 yards rushing . . . Both Stanford quarterbacks this season, Josh Nunes and Hogan, began their careers with wins in their first three games . . . Nose guard David Parry recorded five tackles, including one sack, in his first career start.