Put down your bongs, Pac 12 fans. It is time for your title game. Stanford and UCLA meet twice in six days, the first time that has ever happened in FBS play. By rights, Stanford should claim the title, having beaten the Bruins 35-17 in Pasadena six days ago, but leagues must have title games. Even if fans outside the SEC could not care less. After Palo Alto was pounded with rain, the weather looks clear.
Last Week: The 35-17 score was a bit inflated – Stanford returned a fumble for a touchdown and was spotted for a short touchdown drive on another UCLA turnover – but the Cardinal were the superior team. Stanford ran for 221 yards with Stepfan Taylor averaging more than seven per carry. Stanford held UCLA to just 73 yards rushing on 33 carries. UCLA also committed 135 yards worth of penalties.
Wear Down Factor: The Cardinal are playing their fourth must-win, we need to be up for this game in a row. They played a slugfest with Oregon State at home before facing Oregon in Eugene and UCLA in Pasadena with the Pac 12 title on the line. They have played tremendously, but can they bring it for a fourth consecutive week?
Motivation: Last week was a classic let down spot for UCLA. They were coming off their huge win against USC. Having already clinched the Pac 12 South they had nothing to play for. Thinking very cynically, losing probably made the title game easier for them. With the title at stake and fresh off a loss to Stanford at home, will the Bruins display some more urgency?
Not Leaving: Stanford alum David Shaw is building a juggernaut. He brought in a Top Ten recruiting class nationally last year, at Stanford. He might leave, eventually, for a crack at the NFL. There’s no way he’s leaving for Tennessee or Arkansas. Simmer down.
Prediction: I picked UCLA plus the eight points. Stanford has not been outstanding against the spread at home. This whole twice in six days thing feels weird. It feels like a narrow Cardinal win. We’ll say 21-17.