Taking stock of Week 14 in the Pac-12.
Team of the week: Stanford didn't receive any votes as the Pac-12 champion in the preseason media poll. That's out of 123 voters. And all of those voters -- including Kevin and I -- were wrong.
Best game: Stanford's 27-24 win over UCLA in the Pac-12 championship game wasn't resolved until the final minute. It was a clean game -- just one turnover -- with multiple momentum turns. While the poor attendance was mocked -- hey, it was pouring rain on a 5 p.m. PT kickoff -- it was a strong showing in terms of the quality of the game.
Biggest play: UCLA led Stanford 14-7 early in the second quarter and faced a second-and-16 from the Cardinal 36-yard line. Who knows how things might have gone if the Bruins had gone up 21-7? But quarterback Brett Hundley threw his only interception on the night, and it was returned 80 yards by Ed Reynolds to the Bruins' 1-yard line. A play later, it was 14-14.
Offensive standout: UCLA RB Johnathan Franklin rushed 19 times for 194 yards and a pair of touchdowns -- that's 10.2 yards per carry -- in the Bruins' loss.
Defensive standout: Stanford OLB Chase Thomas had 10 tackles and two sacks with a pass breakup in the Cardinal's win.
Special-teams standout: It appears Stanford kicker Jordan Williamson has regained his mojo. He was 2-for-2 on field goals against the Bruins, connecting on 37-yard and 36-yard attempts that proved critical in the Cardinal's victory.
Smiley face: While some might question what the Bruins showed in the final regular-season game against Stanford -- a 35-17 loss -- there's no doubt that they showed up with their A-game at Stanford. Statistically, at least, they outplayed the Cardinal. The Bruins lost to Stanford 45-19 last year. In just one year -- and one week -- they showed they've closed the gap between themselves and a top-10 team.
Frowny face: Yes, the weather was terrible in the Bay Area this past weekend. And, yes, a 5 p.m. Friday kickoff is difficult to manage anywhere, much less a high-traffic, metropolitan area. But it would have been nice to see more than an official 31,622 on hand for the Pac-12 championship game.
Thought of the week: With two BCS bowl teams and eight bowl teams overall, the Pac-12 can make a major statement this bowl season, namely that it is the SEC's top rival. Or it can look bad and accomplish the opposite.
Questions for the week: We have two: 1. Will Stanford look at Wisconsin's five losses and take the Badgers lightly in the Rose Bowl? The Cardinal might want to watch the Big Ten championship game closely. The team that physically manhandled Nebraska is not the same team that meandered around much of the season. 2. Oregon is going to get its shot at Kansas State after all in the Fiesta Bowl. Ducks fans -- and, yes, the Pac-12 blog -- have kicked the Wildcats around pretty good for the Wildcats' cancellation of a home-and-home series. Who's going to have the last laugh?