STANFORD, Calif. — David Shaw trusted his defense, and it rewarded him.
The Stanford head coach stuck to his conservative playbook on the way to a 24-10 win at home, handing No. 9 UCLA its first loss of the season and perhaps dashing the Bruins’ BCS bowl hopes.
Cardinal safety Jordan Richards picked off quarterback Brett Hundley twice, with his second coming with just 2:40 left on the game clock. Stanford ran the ball five straight times, scoring 58 seconds later on tailback Tyler Gaffney’s four-yard score — his second touchdown of the game.
Hundley looked jittery most of the afternoon, but woke up late in the third quarter. He had missed throws and lagged in the pocket for the better part of the game, going 10 of 18 for 58 yards. On UCLA’s first touchdown drive, the redshirt sophomore went completed all eight of his pass attempts for 76 yards.
He found receiver Shaq Evans in the end zone for a three-yard strike to start the fourth, cutting No. 13 Stanford’s lead to 17-10 and injecting hope into the packed rows of blue in Stanford Stadium’s north corner.
UCLA (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12) was a disjointed mess in the first half. They held the ball for just 9:30 to Stanford’s 20:30, and converted just one of their six third downs. Stanford (6-1, 4-1) kept its playbook conservative, but churned out 207 yards to UCLA’s 84.
The third quarter started out even worse. Linebacker Eric Kendricks had left for Stanford Hospital with kidney pain, and backup left Conor McDermott also suffered an injury.
The Cardinal became the first team to score against UCLA in a third quarter this season, breaking an 71-0 unanswered streak with Kodi Whitfield’s thrilling 30-yard catch. Double covered by safety Anthony Jefferson and cornerback Ishmael Adams, Whitfield pulled in the touchdown with one hand.
Hundley later telegraphed his first interception to Richards, marking the Cardinal’s 32nd straight game with at least one takeaway. Stanford responded with a 60-yard scoring drive, ending with a 1-yard touchdown run by Gaffney.