Senior Chris Owusu caught two touchdowns and Andrew Luck, in what almost certainly will be his last home game as a Cardinal, threw for four as Stanford won the inaugural Pac-12 Championship 38-21 over visiting Arizona State.
"It's great to accomplish our No. 1 goal heading into the season, and that was winning our conference," Owusu said. "I was, what, 11 the last time Stanford won the Pac-10. So we made some history today, and that's great."
Indeed, Stanford last won the Pac-10 in 1999, and the 12-1 Cardinal figure to be headed to the Rose Bowl, which they last won in 1971 and 1972.
"We're elated to be back in the Grandaddy of Them All," Coach David Shaw said. "Forty years is a long drought, and I'd like a shot to snap it with these guys. But we'll fight hard wherever we go."
While the January bowl date already looms large for the Cardinal squad, it was Owusu who came up roses today, muscling and hustling Stanford into the BCS. He caught a five-yard screen in the left flat on the game's opening possession, stiff-armed Devil linebacker Vontaze Burfict at midfield, and outran two defensive backs who had an angle on him. Stanford led 7-0 before an electric crowd and an electrified national television audience, and the Cardinal didn't look back.
Jamal Rashad Patterson capped a breakout 2011 season with a second-quarter touchdown on a 12-yard fade. The Devils and their quarterback Brock Osweiler responded the next drive with a six-yard strike to receiver Gerell Robinson, but Stepfan Taylor's 18-yard touchdown gave the Cardinal a 21-7 halftime lead and, as importantly, some breathing room.
"That was a backbreaker," Burfict said of Taylor's touchdown with 27 seconds left in the first half. "We were doing fine, but then I turned around and it was 28 points in the half. That was a long walk to the locker room, and a lot of heads were hanging."
The second half didn't give the Devils much reason to lift their chins up either. Owusu ran a 33-yard post to perfection to start off the third, and Griff Whalen caught a 14-yarder at the end of the period as Stanford led 35-7, a drastic contrast from last year's 17-13 slog-it-out Stanford victory.
Arizona State dressed up the windows in the fourth with touchdowns from backup tailbacks Kyle Middlebrooks and Deantre Lewis, while Jordan Williamson added for Stanford a 20- yard chip-shot field goal. It was all academic though: Stanford had long since booked its bags, presumably for Pasadena.
"They're going to represent the Pac-12 well," Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson said. "Where's the weakness on that team? I can't find it. We played pretty well actually, so to get your clocks cleaned anyway, that says something."
The Cardinal, however, didn't want to hear any of the accolades, at least not for another month.
"We all remember the focus it took to win the Orange Bowl last year, and we want to make it two-for-two in the BCS," Luck said. "No one is going to work harder than we will this next month, and I'm looking forward to trying to win a Rose Bowl for our school."
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