STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Kevin Hogan has taken Stanford to a place Andrew Luck never could.
With the NFL's No. 1 overall draft pick and an elite class of seniors gone, a program that weathered the loss of coach Jim Harbaugh once again faced questions. Stanford coach David Shaw answered every one of them, finding a new clutch quarterback along the way.
Hogan threw for 155 yards and a touchdown and ran for 47 yards and another score, helping eighth-ranked Stanford beat No. 17 UCLA 27-24 in the Pac-12 championship game Friday night. The redshirt freshman won game MVP honors while leading the Cardinal to the Rose Bowl for the first time in more than a decade.
"Character," said Shaw, the Pac-12 coach of the year in his first two seasons. "Even when we don't play well, we still play hard. Our guys played with such heart. We made plays when we needed to make plays."
Hogan's biggest highlight came in the biggest moment of the game.
As a defender barreled into him, Hogan hurled a 26-yard tying touchdown pass to Drew Terrell on third-and-15 early in the fourth quarter. Jordan Williamson kicked his second field goal from 36 yards with 6:49 remaining for the go-ahead score, lifting Stanford to its first conference title since the 1999 season.
Many of the sparse crowd announced at 31,622 rushed the field. Players, wearing their all-black uniforms, danced on the sideline and later carried roses — or stuck them in their mouths — while parading around as confetti flew from a stage erected on the field.
What a way to ring in the post-Luck Era: The Cardinal (11-2) will play the winner of the Big Ten title game between Nebraska and Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.
UCLA's Brent Hundley threw for 177 yards and a costly interception that set up a Stanford touchdown. He still almost brought the Bruins (9-4) back, but Ka'imi Fairbairn missed a 52-yard field goal wide left in the closing moments of the disappointing loss.
Hogan completed 16 of 22 passes for a fourth win over a ranked opponent in his fourth straight start since unseating Josh Nunes at quarterback. After the Cardinal rolled past UCLA 35-17 last Saturday at the Rose Bowl, it took all 60 minutes to secure another victory in a rare rematch.
Scattered showers made the grass a bit slick, though the surface never seemed to slow down the Bruins, who ran for 284 yards with Johnathan Franklin (194 yards) leading the way. It was the most yards rushing allowed this season by Stanford, which yielded 198 in an overtime victory at Oregon two weeks earlier.
The Cardinal did just enough to win their seventh straight game and advance to their third different BCS bowl in as many seasons. They have won at least 11 games each year, part of a run that began behind Harbaugh and Luck, and now has carried on with Shaw and Hogan.
Stanford had won 10 games only three times before in program history (1992, 1940 and 1926).
"It's been fun," Hogan said.
The Bruins made the final road block more difficult than expected.
UCLA converted a pair of third downs before Franklin burst through the middle for a 51-yard touchdown on the game's opening drive. He carried safety Jordan Richards the final 5 yards into the end zone.