STANFORD -- The participating coaches like playing a familiar opponent Friday in the Pac-12 Championship game, but they're concerned about a short week of preparation. They're eager to tweak the game plans but worried about information overload. They're relieved and concerned, excited and wary.
Frankly, it's tough to blame Stanford's David Shaw and UCLA's Jim Mora for not knowing exactly what to make of the matchup. They've never been in this position.
The rematch of Stanford's 35-17 victory at UCLA on Saturday is believed to be the first time in the modern era that teams have played each other on consecutive weeks.
The last time it happened was 1935, when Villanova and Detroit went back-to-back, according to a database of major college scores at footballgeography.com
The last instance of back-to-back games involving teams that currently play major college football was 1919 (Colorado State and Wyoming).
"I don't know where you gain an advantage," Mora said. "What it comes down to is the team that executes better and plays the hardest and makes the fewest mistakes will give itself the best chance to win."
Which makes this game the same as last week's matchup -- and any other game played by any two teams on any week since at least 1919.
The difference Friday is the stakes: The winner goes to the Rose Bowl.
"It's just making sure you get the right mixture of rest and work so that your players are sharp," Mora added. "You have to alter things a little bit, but we don't want to step too far out of our routine."
The teams are faced with this unusual situation in the league championship game because of the league championship game.
The second-year event eats up a weekend that otherwise would have been used for regular-season play.
This year, the schedule squeeze resulted in Cal and Stanford squaring off in October instead of Thanksgiving weekend.
Moving the Big Game, in turn, cleared the way for Stanford and UCLA to meet on Nov. 24.
And here we are, weirdness and all.
"There are some positives," Stanford linebacker Chase Thomas said. "When you watch film you see, 'He was giving me this move all night and I never took advantage.' "
The back-to-back nature of the matchup poses unique challenges for the coaches. Mistakes must be corrected, and plays that didn't work must be discarded from the game plan. At the same time, weaknesses in the opponent must be exploited, tweaks anticipated and answers found.
Above all, the coaches must avoid
"We have to make sure we don't outsmart ourselves," Shaw said. "We've got everything we need to get done and make sure we don't wear the guys out. There don't need to be vast changes. We need to make sure we add some stuff, delete some stuff and make sure the guys play fast."
The Cardinal must do a better job holding onto the ball -- it fumbled four times, losing possession once -- and improve its efficiency on third down.
UCLA's challenges are more daunting, starting with pass protection: Quarterback Brett Hundley was sacked seven times and never seemed comfortable in the pocket even when he remained upright. The Bruins also must create more running room for tailback Johnathan Franklin, who gained just 65 yards, half his season average.
Finally, the Bruins must be convinced they can beat a team that has outscored them 115-36 the past three years and just won handily on their home field.
"To think that UCLA is going to come up here and roll over for us is completely wrong," Shaw said. "(Mora) is going to get his troops fired up and ready to take it to us. We have to prepare for their best shot and make sure they get our best shot."
Like the one Stanford delivered just six days earlier.