UCLA football now has a Bruins Killer.
Remember the days when that sort of thing against the Yankees made players famous? Remember Detroit's Frank Lary going 28-10 against the Bronx Bombers and proudly carrying the nickname "Yankee Killer"?
We now present Kevin Hogan, Bruins Killer. Around Westwood, they may start calling him Hulk. Not with affection.
Four times, he has bent down over center at the start of a game against UCLA. Four times, he has won. Two years ago, he did it twice in six days, beating the Bruins in the regular season finale and then doing it again in the Pac-12 Conference title game.
That was also the year the tall, curly-haired youngster from McLean, Va., led Stanford past Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.
The gravy days continued in his junior season, where he beat the Bruins again and got the Cardinal back to the Rose Bowl. This time, Stanford lost to Michigan State, in a game played so close to the vest by his coach, David Shaw, that Stanford fans got goose-bumpy if their team tried a bubble screen.
This year, Stanford's football season was way less than goose-bumpy. So was Hogan. Five teams sent them back to the Farm with furrowed brows and work to do.
But Friday, with its 6-5 record stirring fear in the hearts of no one and little at stake other than a trip to one of the junk bowls, Stanford played like a team trying to get into the Final Four.
So did Hogan.
On this day, it was the Bruins who had it all on the line. They were 9-2, and were No. 8. You needed a giant abacus to figure Stanford's ranking. UCLA had a shot at the national title, were several things to fall into place. Not Stanford. It had nothing going for it, other than a spot in either the Riches to Rags Bowl or the Wait Till Next Year Classic.
This was a game to be served up on a platter for Brett Hundley, UCLA's star quarterback. Or as Shaw referred to him afterward, "A top
Hogan stole the game and the show. It wasn't a game. It was a rerun of Hogan's Heroes. It left UCLA looking toward little more than the Bad Breath Bowl in Gilroy.
Hogan's game was Manning-esq. He completed 16 of 19 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns, connecting with nine receivers. He also rushed for 46 yards, or 64 more than the beleaguered Hundley, who ended up with a minus-18.
Afterward, Hogan said, with the restraint of a quarterback coached by the king of restraint, "I felt good, I felt comfortable. My receivers bailed me out a couple of times. The line was great. I was able to step up in the pocket. Some of those plays were just pitch-and-catch."
His teammates were less restrained.
Freshman running back Christian McCaffrey said, "He was terrific, his best game ever."
Senior wide receiver Devon Cajuste, who caught one of Hogan's scoring passes, said, "It looked like he just finally played. He relaxed and played. It looked like he found his love of the game."
That may be the real issue with Hogan and Stanford fans now.
His less-than-Rose-Bowl-worthy season has turned many Stanford fans fickle, as is fans' want. Many have fallen out of love with Hogan and in love with freshman Keller Chryst, a local flash from Palo Alto.
Hogan has a year of eligibility left. Is he still the future, or the past? Did his shredding of UCLA change opinion down on the Farm?
Shaw referred to Hogan in his postgame remarks as "our senior quarterback." Hogan, who will get his degree in science, technology and society this year, was asked about his likely whereabouts next fall.
"I haven't decided," he said, which is player-speak for, "I've decided, but I'm not going to tell you."
We may be heading for a quarterback controversy on the Peninsula. Will the Cardinal crowd welcome Hogan back? Will Shaw orchestrate his staying or his departing? And what about the NFL? How much will it want him? Will pro scouts see Friday as the real deal or an aberration?
Hogan comes from a family of much football lore. His grandfather played at Navy, a cousin played at
For Hogan, it may be hard to figure. There will be lots of opinions.
If UCLA fans get a vote, it will be easy.