We remember: UCLA seeks redemption vs. Stanford
OCT 15, 2013 8:02p ET
The mistakes still remembered, the feeling of being so close and barely missing out on a program-defining win and the finality of it all hasn't been forgotten.
"I'm still not over it, honestly," said senior wide receiver Shaquelle Evans. "The pain has gone down a little bit but the first three or four months of the offseason I was just stunned."
The Pac-12 Championship Game was a particularly heart-wrenching loss. The Bruins hung with the Cardinal every step of the way until late in the fourth quarter when quarterback Brett Hundley threw a costly interception. Then, down just three in their final drive, kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn, then just a freshman who had yet to play on a stage that big, took a bad snap from Kevin McDermott and missed on a 51-yard field goal.
Fairbairn has continued to work on that that kick in nearly every practice since that game.
"The interception, we dropped a ball in the flat on that last drive, a less than perfect snap by one of the best snappers I've ever been around," said coach Jim Mora. "I've given him 34-left hash on nearly every practice since spring.”
Recent history has seen Stanford continually torment the Bruins. The physical, powerful style of play has worn down the Bruins year after year. The Bruins' flashy spread game hasn't always matched up well against the tough, methodical pound-it-up-the-middle style of the Cardinal. It's just simply two different styles of football that don't work well against one another.
The Cardinal's physicality wore down the Bruins in two straight weeks last year. New additions to the team could help them be better equipped to handle the heavy work load but the Bruins won't find out until Saturday.
"I don't know," said linebacker Jordan Zumwalt. "I think we're pretty good on defense so we're just going to go out and play hard."
Zumwalt trailed off. Like Evans said, it's clear the hurt is still there.
The last time the Bruins were ranked in the Top 10 was in the 2005 season. Coincidentally, it was also the last time they won on the Farm, ranked No. 8 in an epic 30-27 overtime win.
UCLA last beat Stanford in 2008, meaning no current Bruins have seen a win against the Cardinal.
"That night last November, that was one of the worst nights of my football career," Evans said. "In my career, going back to Notre Dame, they've beat me I think three or four times already so I have to get this. This is my last chance so I have to get a win in before I leave here."
The Bruins are going up to Stanford in a much different situation than their last time up north. UCLA is now 5-0 while the Cardinal showed they are beatable after a loss to unranked Utah last week. But emotions are about as high as they can get, which can be good in some cases and detrimental for others.
Mora knows that all of his guys want this win, and they want it bad.
Come Saturday, the Bruins will be ready mentally and physically for one of the most important challenges of the season.
"You want to play with emotion but you don't want to play emotionally," Mora said. "You want to play in a heightened state of mental awareness but you don't want to ever let it get out of control. I think part of the way you do that as a head coach is a way that you talk to them and the things that you say to them. You don't want to necessarily whip them into a frenzy on a Tuesday.
"You let it slowly build until you create the right mindset going into the game -- a mindset of calmness and confidence and poise, composure and class."
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