STANFORD -- David Shaw and Kevin Hogan just did something Bill Walsh, John Elway, Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck never could.

That's a stunning sentence to write and contemplate, but it's true:

On Friday, Stanford slugged it out and beat UCLA 27-24, won the conference, and earned the Cardinal's first trip to the Rose Bowl since the 1999 season.

After it was over, as players and students raced to midfield and pointed roses to the sky, Shaw shook the UCLA coaches' hands and watched the party begin.

Then he slowly raised his arms into the air in the middle of Stanford Stadium and kept them up there for a while.

"Our guys hung in there," Shaw said later. "We knew it was going to come down to the end.

"Were we going to have the resolve, were we going to have the toughness, were we going to be smart enough to make just enough plays at the end to win?

"And our guys did that."

Shaw has been the Cardinal drill-sergeant through all this, urging his players to remain in the present and do no celebrating until the hardware was officially won.

At last on Friday night, with the game won, Shaw seemed to feel the emotional force of this season of achievement.

"You've got to be tough, you've got to be smart, and you've got to finish what you start," Shaw said on the victory podium.

Six words to carve into a mountainside: Stanford is in the Rose Bowl.


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That's something Elway and Walsh never did, something Harbaugh and Luck never did, either; and something only done twice by a Stanford team in the last 40 years.

And, by the way, it's harder to do now than it has ever been, up to and including this recent conference-title game.

An extra chance to lose, essentially. Or an extra chance for Stanford to keep this going.

Now Shaw has brought the Cardinal to BCS games in both of his first two seasons as coach, after taking the reins from Harbaugh.

And Stanford won the Pacific-12 championship game in the manner that is now the essence of the Cardinal:

The Stanford players kept grinding, kept working, kept pushing ... and pulled it out in the end, when the opponent faltered and the championship was won.

Stanford did it with Hogan, a red-shirt freshman

quarterback who played an efficient, precise game on Friday ... and still has never lost a game as a collegian.

Stanford did it with a defense that gave up some early big plays to the Bruins (and 461 yards overall), but stopped UCLA exactly when it had to.

Stanford did it without flash or outside speed; Stanford did it by coming back from a fourth-quarter deficit; Stanford did it without making any critical errors ...

And most impressively of all, Stanford earned a Rose Bowl berth this season by beating Oregon State, Oregon and UCLA and then UCLA again on four consecutive weeks.

"It's been a good month," Hogan said Friday night.

That's an all-time November, and it was capped on Friday when Hogan led the Cardinal on two late TD drives to win this game.

Hogan capped the first drive by completing a beautiful 26-yard touchdown strike to receiver Drew Terrell on third-and-15, which tied it at 24 early in the fourth quarter.

Then, after some UCLA penalties pinned the Bruins deep in their own territory, Terrell's ensuing 18-yard punt-return set up another drive.

Hogan moved Stanford deep into Bruin territory and then Jordan Williamson's 36-yard field goal with 6:49 left in the fourth quarter gave Stanford the lead.

And Stanford kept it.

This is a Stanford team that could be thinking about what it just missed.

A play here or there in its losses to Notre Dame and Washington, and the Cardinal could be looking at a perfect season.

But that's really not what this season is about: It's about the sum of the Cardinal parts being great enough to accomplish epic things.

About going on the road to beat Oregon in overtime, about sweeping UCLA in two weeks in November, and about dancing on the field, with roses in their hands.

It's about doing things that nobody thought they could, and that some of the greatest players and coaches in Stanford history never did.

That is the measure of this season. They had to finish and they did, on Friday night, in the best and rosiest possible way.