For the second time in six days, Stanford bested UCLA. Friday's triumph carried a bit more significance, however.
Jordan Williamson buried a 36-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter which proved to be the difference, as No. 8 Stanford defeated No. 17 UCLA, 27-24, in the Pac-12 Championship game to secure a spot in the Rose Bowl.
Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan finished an efficient 16-of-22 passing for 155 yards with a touchdown, while also rushing for 47 yards and a score on 11 carries for the Cardinal (11-2), who claimed their first conference crown since 1999 with their eighth straight league win.
"It's been a good month," Hogan said. "We've been playing well. The guys around me make it a lot easier than it looks. I'm very fortunate to have such great teammates around me."
Stepfan Taylor, who rushed for a pair of scores in last Saturday's 35-17 win over the Bruins, added 24 carries for 78 yards and a touchdown in the victory to help Stanford advance to its 13th Rose Bowl in school history.
The Cardinal await the winner of Saturday's Big Ten Championship game between Nebraska and Wisconsin. Either opponent would represent a Rose Bowl rematch, as Stanford defeated Wisconsin, 21-13, in 1941, but lost to Wisconsin, 17-9, in 2000.
Stanford's defense, which came into the game giving up an NCAA-low 71.3 yards per game on the ground, was gashed by UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin for 194 yards and two scores on 19 carries.
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley finished 23-of-31 for 177 yards with an interception, while rushing for 83 yards and a score on 16 carries for the Bruins (9-4), who have lost back-to-back conference title games after losing last year's Pac-12 Championship to Oregon.
"Very disappointed, obviously," UCLA coach Jim Mora said. "I'm disappointed for the young men in that locker room that just poured their heart into this season. They did everything that we asked. I told them they shouldn't be ashamed of anything."
The Bruins racked up 461 total yards of offense against the usually stout Stanford defense, but the Cardinal stood tall with the game on the line.
After Williamson's field goal with just under seven minutes left gave the home team a three-point edge, the teams exchanged punts, giving UCLA one final possession with just over two minutes remaining and no timeouts.
Aided by a roughing the passer penalty, Hundley moved the Bruins near midfield before converting a 4th-and-7 with a 17-yard strike to Jordon James.
A 5-yard reception by Devin Fuller moved the ball to the Stanford 34 and Ka'imi Fairbairn stepped up for a potential game-tying 52-yard field goal with 39 seconds remaining.
Fairbairn had enough leg on the kick, but it was wide left from the start.
Hogan, who earned Most Valuable Player honors for his effort, then took one final knee to seal the victory for the Cardinal.
UCLA used a long scoring play to take a 7-0 lead on its opening possession, as Hundley converted a pair of third downs before Franklin took a delayed handoff up the middle and outran the defense for a 51-yard touchdown less than four minutes into the contest.
Stanford answered with an 11-play, 69-yard scoring march to knot the game. Ryan Hewitt kept the trek alive with a 2-yard surge on 4th-and-1 from the UCLA 36 and Taylor followed with a 33-yard catch-and-run to the UCLA 1.
Hogan then finished off the drive, as he got everyone to bite on a play-fake and strolled uncontested into the end zone to make it 7-all with just over six minutes left in the first.
UCLA responded with a quick scoring strike that took less than 2 1/2 minutes. Hundley highlighted the drive with a 48-yard scamper and then capped the touch with a 5-yard touchdown run to give the Bruins a 14-7 edge late in the first.
The Bruins seemed poised to add to their lead early in the second, but Hundley was picked off by Ed Reynolds at the Stanford 19.
Reynolds then made a number of Bruins miss en route to a dazzling 80-yard return, but he was ruled down just shy of the goal line. Taylor then punched it in from a yard out to knot the game at 14-14 just over two minutes into the second.
The teams exchanged punts over the rest of the second stanza until Williamson nailed a 37-yard field goal just before the break to send the Cardinal into the locker room holding a 17-14 advantage.
Fairbairn connected on a 31-yard field goal on UCLA's opening possession of the second half to lock the game at 17-all before the Bruins jumped in front on their next touch.
Hundley converted three third downs on the march, including a 3rd-and-4 from the Stanford 25 to set up Franklin's 20-yard touchdown surge and give UCLA a 24-17 lead with just over a minute left in the third.
Hogan kept Stanford's ensuing touch alive with a 17-yard strike to Drew Terrell before Taylor moved the chains with a 5-yard surge on 3rd-and-4.
After a holding penalty handcuffed the drive and forced the Cardinal into a 3rd-and-15, Hogan found Terrell in the back right corner of the end zone for a 26-yard score to knot the game at 24-24 with 11:21 remaining.
After a three-and-out from the Bruins, Terrell returned the ensuing punt 18 yards to the UCLA 43 before Kelsey Young ripped off a 23-yard run.
The drive stalled there however, as Stanford settled for Williamson's go-ahead field goal with 6:49 left in the game.
Stanford improved to 7-0 at Stanford Stadium this year ... Taylor (4,210) surpassed Darrin Nelson's school record of 4,169 career rushing yards ... Stanford and UCLA are the first opponents in college football history to play in their regular-season finale and follow the next week with a conference championship game rematch ... Franklin (4,894) broke Maurice Jones-Drew's school record of 4,688 all-purpose yards. Franklin (1,707) also set a school record for single-season rushing yards, surpassing Karim Abdul-Jabbar's mark of 1,571 in 1995.