After wild weekend, Stanford back in Pac-12 title game 

click to enlarge Stanford
  • AP Photo/Tony Avelar
  • California running back Brendan Bigelow (5) is tackled for a loss by Stanford linebacker Jarek Lancaster (35) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Stanford, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013. Stanford won 65-13.
Oregon was in control of the Pac-12 Conference North Division until it lost to Stanford. The Cardinal put the Ducks in charge by losing to Southern Cal, only to get it right back when Oregon lost to Arizona.

Yep, it’s been a wild ride in the Pac-12 this season and, finally, we have some clarity.

With its rout over Cal and Oregon’s letdown against the Wildcats, No. 8 Stanford secured a spot in the Dec. 7 Pac-12 Championship game. The Cardinal will face No. 13 Arizona State, which clinched the South with its hang-on-til-the-end win over UCLA on Saturday.

The site will be determined on the outcome of next weekend’s game between Arizona and Arizona State; the Sun Devils will host with a win, Stanford gets the game if the Wildcats win.

“We’re back in the Pac-12 championship game,” Stanford coach David Shaw said. “Now the fact is what are we going to do with this opportunity?”

It has been an interesting ride for the Cardinal.

The defending Rose Bowl champions dominated early in the season, rolling through its first five games. The Cardinal had a slipup against Utah, but bounced back by holding off Oregon on Nov. 7. Stanford’s reign atop the Pac-12 North last one week, thanks to a loss at USC last week.

The flip-flopping continued on Saturday, when Oregon suffered a stunning 42-16 loss at Arizona.

Stanford played later in the day and, with his game pretty much out of reach, Shaw allowed himself to think about what was going on down in the desert, checking the score on the phone of former Cardinal cornerback Richard Sherman while on the sideline.

“He just tapped me on the shoulder and didn’t say anything, showed me his phone, which had the score on it,” Shaw said. “Of course, I was a little bit shocked, thought I was seeing it the wrong way.”

Word spread around Stanford’s sideline and the crowd erupted when the score was announced in the stadium. The Cardinal were already well ahead and the news energized them even more, helping them continue their 63-13 blowout over Cal in the Big Game.

NEXT GAME

Stanford vs. Notre Dame

WHEN: Saturday, 4 p.m.

WHERE: Stanford Stadium

TV: Fox (KTVU, Ch. 2)

RADIO: KTCT (1050 AM)

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