Pac-12 Championship 2012, UCLA vs. Stanford: Bruins come up just short in 27-24 loss

Thearon W. Henderson

The Bruins matched Stanford play-for-play, but one mistake cost them a trip to the Rose Bowl.

With a trip to the Rose Bowl on the line, No. 16 UCLA gave No. 8 Stanford everything it could handle in the Pac-12 Championship game, but the Bruins still came up just short.

UCLA had a chance to tie the game and likely force overtime, but freshman kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn missed wide left on a 52-yard field goal attempt. Stanford took a knee to run out the clock before Cardinal fans and players poured onto the field to celebrate the school's first trip to a Rose Bowl since 1999.

After being so close to winning the Pac-12, UCLA coaches and players took the loss fairly hard. Defensive end Cassius Marsh said the loss breaks his heart while head coach Jim Mora said it would take some time to get over.

"We'll eventually move on, but this one is going to sting for while," Mora said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "You don't get this close, and get that close, and lose, and not have it hurt."

The Bruins played one of their better games of the season and may have even outplayed the Cardinal. UCLA outgained Stanford by more than 100 yards, but while the Cardinal were mistake free, UCLA made one critical error.

Leading 14-7 and driving in Stanford territory, UCLA freshman quarterback Brett Hundley was intercepted by Ed Reynolds who returned the ball 80 yards to the Bruins 1-yardline. Stanford's Stepfan Taylor scored on the next play to tie the game. Instead of possibly taking a 10 or even 14 point lead, the Bruins were now tied and without any momentum.

Despite the interception, UCLA still had an opportunity to come away with a win. Unfortunately for the Bruins, they came up just short and will now have to settle for a likely trip to the Alamo Bowl or Holiday Bowl instead of playing in their first Rose Bowl since the 1998 season.

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