Simulation Station: UCLA

You can read previews of opponents' strengths and weaknesses anywhere. But who cares about the outlook for some third-string tailback? That's why, here at The Bootleg, we took matters into our own hands, quite literally. We played out Stanford's upcoming season in NCAA Football 2012, and are faithfully reporting our video game results. How will the Card do this week? Read on!

Stanford, Calif. – Oct. 1, 2011

Stepfan Taylor ran for four touchdowns and Chris Owusu ran back a kickoff in the last minute of regulation to rally Stanford from the dead and to a triple-overtime 40-34 victory for the ages over UCLA.

"Whew!" Coach David Shaw said postgame. "My heart's still in my throat. College football doesn't get any better than that."

With 52 seconds left in regulation, UCLA quarterback Richard Brehaut threw a fourth-and-goal nine- yard touchdown pass to Devin Lucien, and then found Nelson Rosario for a two-point conversion to put UCLA up 17-14. As UCLA's players continued to celebrate the apparent game-winning score on the sideline, Chris Owusu ran the ensuing kickoff smartly to his left, turned upfield untouched, and turned the contest on its head with a 100-yard touchdown.

"We've had a good return game these last few years, so I knew we had a shot," Owusu said. "I just kept hoping UCLA wouldn't stall and score as time ran out, so we'd have our chance. I caught the kick, saw a seam, and just ran as hard and as fast as I possibly could."

Jordan Williamson missed the extra point, however, and UCLA marched far enough downfield that Kip Smith could hit a 39-yard field goal with two seconds left in regulation, forcing overtime.

Both teams scored at will in the extra periods, as Taylor racked up his third and fourth touchdowns in Stanford's first two overtimes, and Luck found Levine Toilolo for a 14-yard touchdown in the third.

However, when UCLA took the field for its triple-overtime drive, the Stanford defense finally broke the stalemate with a goal-line stand. Cardinal defenders gave the Bruins two yards and two feet on a series starting from the Card 3, and a fierce Stanford blitz forced Brehaut to misfire on a fourth-down lob to Taylor Embree.

"We got beat up in the overtimes, but so did their D, and our offense kept giving us chances," said linebacker Chase Thomas, who led Stanford with three tackles for loss and a sack. "They ran it up the middle three straight times on that last drive, and I still don't know how we stopped them, but we did. It was all heart out there."

Taylor had a career game, scoring his four touchdowns on just 14 carries, while gaining 97 rushing and 37 receiving yards. Incredibly, each of the scores came after the halftime whistle.

"Some days, it's just your day," Taylor said. "All the credit goes to the offensive line. They opened great lanes for me."

Taylor scored from 13 yards out with 7:15 left in the third, and then again from eight yards with 39 seconds left in the period, giving Stanford a 14-9 lead that the stage for the dramatic end of regulation.

In the first overtime, Taylor took a pitch left for a 17-yard score, and he accounted again for Stanford's double-overtime touchdown, this one up the gut for seven yards.

UCLA kept responding, however. Three first-half Smith field goals gave the Bruins a 9-0 lead. Lucien scored the first overtime touchdown on a 16-yard pass, and tailback Jonathan Franklin ran in the second overtime touchdown from the 16.

Taylor Embree started the Bruins' triple overtime with a drag across the middle that went for a 22-yard reception, but UCLA could advance no further. With its goal-line stand, the Stanford defense clinched the contest, and kept alive the possibility of a special season.

Disclaimer: The Bootleg's crystal ball cannot be held responsible for any wagers placed. Also, EA Sports doesn't know about injuries and depth chart changes and such. Take the stories in the spirit in which they're intended.

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