PASADENA -- The dress rehearsal is history.
Now No. 11 Stanford and UCLA will play it again this week in the Pac-12 championship game with an invitation to the Rose Bowl at stake.
The Cardinal (10-2, 8-1 Pac-12) took care of the Precursor Bowl on Saturday by dominating the No. 15 Bruins 35-17 in front of an announced crowd of 68,228 on an unseasonably warm day inside the Rose Bowl.
The highly anticipated sequel will take place at 5 p.m. Friday at Stanford Stadium when the schools meet for a chance to face the winner of the Big Ten title game featuring Nebraska and Wisconsin.
After fifth-ranked Oregon beat Oregon State 48-24 earlier Saturday the Cardinal's only path to the league title game was by defeating UCLA to win the North Division.
Not that the team or coach David Shaw claimed to know it.
"It was inconsequential," Shaw said. "We had a game to play. We had a desire to get to win No. 10."
Senior tailback Stepfan Taylor didn't know Oregon had won until told by reporters after the game.
"We came into the game focused on us," said Taylor, who gained 142 yards on 20 carries and scored twice.
Taylor trails Darrin Nelson (4,169 yards) by 35 yards to become the school's all-time career rushing leader.
Stanford made sure it got one more home game this season with a well-balanced offense coupled with a dominant defense that had seven sacks and an interception by sophomore safety Jordan Richards.
"I expect them to give everything they have," Shaw said. "It's going to be 10 times harder than this game was. We have to fight complacency."
It hasn't been a problem thus far for a team with strong senior leaders such a Taylor, the second back in school history to surpass at least 4,000 yards for a career.
The Cardinal showed no signs of a hangover after upsetting former No. 1 Oregon last week to boost its chances of reaching the Rose Bowl for the first time in 12 years.
Stanford has elevated its play behind redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan. In just his third start, Hogan completed 15 of 22 passes for 160 yards and one touchdown as Stanford defeated the Bruins for the fourth consecutive time.
The game came down to 13 seconds in the third quarter when everything fell Stanford's way.
It began with Richards' interception of UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley, who completed 20 of 38 passes for 261 yards but struggled against a relentless wave of Cardinal rushers.
Starting at the Bruins' 42-yard line, Taylor went 40 yards to set up his 1-yard touchdown run two plays
Then Usua Amanam recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and went 11 yards for another score. Alex Debniak jarred the ball loose from returner Kenneth Walker and suddenly Stanford led 35-10.
The defense continued to show it's the real star of the 2012 season. The Cardinal now has a school-record 53 sacks and ranks second nationally in the statistical category.
"Brett was under a lot of pressure so we have to do a better job of finding a way to protect Brett," UCLA coach Jim Mora said.
That much is obvious. But the Bruins also need to solve the Cardinal rush defense. Stanford held UCLA to 73 yards rushing -- not surprising considering it's ranked second nationally against the run. The Bruins' star tailback Jonathan Franklin got only 65 yards on 21 carries.
As sweet as the victory tasted, Cardinal players already were preparing for the second feature.
"Losing next week makes this game irrelevant," Richards said.
Although that's not quite true, everyone understood the sentiment.
Running into history
Running back Stepfan Taylor ran for 142 yards to move within 35 of the Stanford record held by Darrin Nelson. Here's a glimpse at the list:
Player Years TDs YPC Yards
Darrin Nelson 1977-78, 80-81 24 5.9 4,169
Stepfan Taylor 2009-present 38 5.2 4,134
Toby Gerhart 2006-09 44 5.2 3,522
Brad Muster 1984-87 27 4.3 2,940
Anthony Bookman 1994-97 17 4.9 2,523