Hogan Pulls Best Luck Impression, Leads Cardinal to 31-10 Upset Victory

By: Ben Leonard

The Stanford Cardinal had UCLA’s number heading into Saturday, winning their last six meetings against the Bruins. Saturday was no different, as Stanford controlled all facets of the game to make it seven straight, outgaining the eighth-ranked Bruins 436-262 in a dominant 31-10 win. Senior quarterback Kevin Hogan keyed the victory with his efficiency, supported by a strong rushing attack and defense. Stanford indeed played the spoiler against UCLA, preventing them from taking a berth in the Pac-12 Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium.

Despite this dominant end result, UCLA looked to be in control early. After receiving the opening kickoff, Stanford had a quick three-and-out and gave UCLA the ball at their own thirty-six yard line. They wasted no time in marching to the end zone, needing just five plays and a minute and twenty-seven seconds to go sixty-four yards for the score. Brett Hundley’s fifteen yard strike to receiver Thomas Duarte capped the drive, giving the Bruins early momentum and a 7-0 lead.

Stanford responded well, working a ten play, seventy-five yard drive for a score. Despite an early holding penalty on stud left tackle Andrus Peat, the Cardinal was able to ride Kevin Hogan’s arm all the way to the end zone. Peat did not have his best game, flagged for three penalties, including a personal foul for illegal hands to the face. Peat’s struggles did not seem to affect the Cardinal’s line, who wore out UCLA on both sides of the ball. Hogan was a perfect five for five for sixty-four yards on the drive, which was capped by a one yard touchdown from Reymound Wright, his fifth in his previous five quarters. He completed his first eleven passes, a career high for the signal caller.

After Stanford’s defense forced a three-and-out against UCLA and quarterback Brett Hundley’s offense, Stanford took over at their own ten. Christian McCaffrey had a big return negated by a block in the back call, and this drive would also be plagued by penalties. Two penalties on Stanford, an unsportsmanlike conduct call and a delay of game held back a hot Cardinal offense. Stanford was flagged seven times for sixty-five yards, mostly affecting them in the incipient stages of the game. It was no barrier to their success later on in the game, as Hogan had his way with a UCLA defense that could not bring any pressure.

In what would be UCLA’s last scoring drive of the game, the Bruins went twenty five yards on ten plays to set up a forty-two yard Ka’imi Fairbairn field goal. UCLA took a 10-7 lead, which would not hold for long. Stanford’s offensive line was simply too much for UCLA’s front seven, who yielded 202 rushing yards and 12.3 yards per passing attempt. Hogan had the best half of his career Saturday, completing fourteen of fifteen atempts for 189 yards and two touchdowns. Hogan’s mechanics were impeccable, as he finally was able to square up his front shoulder to deliver accurate strikes to his receivers.  His one incompletion came on a drop by receiver Michael Rector on what would have been a sure touchdown. Rector redeemed himself later in the drive, making a remarkable sliding catch for a twenty-two yard touchdown, giving the Cardinal a 14-10 lead. On their next drive, Hogan hooked up with hulking receiver Devon Cajuste for a thirty-seven yard touchdown, giving the Cardinal a 21-10 lead going into the half. Hogan escaped pressure, stepped up in the pocket, and made a questionable, yet strong, throw to Cajuste in double coverage. In the end zone, Cajuste went up and made a play on the ball over two UCLA defenders for the score. Hogan finished the day completing sixteen of nineteen passes for 234 yards, only throwing four times in the second half with Stanford in control of the game. He played with confidence reminiscent of former star Andrew Luck, taking over the game in the early going.

Stanford’s defense smothered Brett Hundley, who was simply outclassed by Hogan. He completed just seventeen of thirty-two passes for 146 yards. The Cardinal’s front seven harassed him in the pocket, sacking him four times and forcing him to leave with a hand injury midway through the fourth quarter. He gave way to backup Jerry Neuheisel, who wasn’t any better, completing just three of nine completions. Hundley, a junior, took part in the Senior Day festivities, and will likely go to the NFL after this season. Hundley claims he has accomplished all he has wanted to at UCLA, yet he has not beaten Stanford or Oregon once in his career.  His last game at the Rose Bowl was a dud, as Stanford’s physical defense overwhelmed UCLA’s offensive line and didn’t give him much time to throw. The Cardinal held UCLA to just 100 yards rushing, despite 116 from Pac-12 rushing leader Paul Perkins.

With a comfortable 21-10 lead at the half, Stanford put their foot on the gas, going eighty yards for a quick score. Big runs by McCaffrey and Wright keyed their success, and Wright capped the drive with a two yard touchdown run, his second of the game, to give Stanford a 28-10 lead. Wright had yet another big game this week, co-leading the team along with McCaffrey with sixty-four yards on fifteen carries. The backs’ success set up Hogan’s, allowing Stanford to take their foot off the gas late in the game. Jordan Williamson added a thirty-four yard goal early in the fourth quarter, giving the Cardinal a 31-10 lead, one that would hold. Stanford appeared very comfortable in the Rose Bowl, especially after playing in the venue twice for the Rose Bowl Game in the last two years. Down 31-10 late in the fourth, UCLA had one last chance to make it a game, driving all the way down to Stanford’s four, but Neuheisel’s incompletion turned the ball over on downs, icing the victory. Stanford felt like an entirely different team Saturday, leaving fans wondering where this squad was earlier in the season.

Cover Image: By Cynthia Yock (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons