Stanford takes on UCLA in Pac-12 Conference Championship

Getty Images File PhotoDeja vu: Stanford will be playing UCLA for the Pac-12 title after beating the Bruins 35-17 last week.

This week has been unlike any other in the 20 years Mike Gleeson has been Stanford football’s video director.
Even though there’s a tight turnaround between the Cardinal’s 35-17 victory Saturday at UCLA and the Pac-12 Conference championship game rematch tonight, Gleeson’s typical task is simplified. All he has to do is add video from the first game and recalculate statistics to the preparation done last week.

After that, things get complicated.

“The staff, in a way, they have to shuffle the deck as if it didn’t happen. Or did it?” Gleeson said. “How do you want to look at it? Do you want to change things? Do you want to keep things? Now we’ve got the mind games with UCLA.

What did they show? What do we think they showed compared to what they’ll do this week? … That’s the mind game.”

Call last week a dress rehearsal, although even that may be in question. Stanford will wear its black uniforms, helmets and shoes for only the fourth time. UCLA is expected to swap out those dark-blue “L.A. Night” jerseys for its traditional white tops, gold pants and gold helmets on the road.

With the Pac-12 title at stake, what else the eighth-ranked Cardinal (10-2) and the No. 17 Bruins (9-3) bring out of the closet for the sequel at Stanford Stadium might not be so obvious. They will be the first opponents in major-college football matched against each other for a regular-season finale and conference title game in consecutive weeks.

“I cannot recall ever being in this situation before,” UCLA coach Jim Mora said. “I don’t know that it benefits either team, or is hard on any team.”

The Cardinal controlled the first matchup in familiar, physical fashion.

Stepfan Taylor rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Kevin Hogan beat his third ranked opponent in his third straight start since replacing Josh Nunes, passing for 160 yards and another score to help Stanford run away with its fourth victory in a row over the Bruins.

“Our challenge is to make sure that we don’t outsmart ourselves,” Stanford coach David Shaw said. “But at the same time, that we are as diverse as we can be, to make sure that the things that we did positively, we got to know that UCLA is going to come back and have answers for it. The things that they did positively, we got to make sure that we fix those things that hurt us.”

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