Stanford coach David Shaw put into perspective the No. 7 Cardinal's dramatic 22-13 comeback victory over host UCLA on Saturday night.
"Pressure is imagined," said Shaw, whose team achieved its ninth straight win over the Bruins. "It's not a real thing. We all know that."
The Cardinal (3-0 overall, 2-0 Pac-12) resembled that remark, awaking from its doldrums on offense just in time against a stingy UCLA defense with a 70-yard drive in 10 plays in the waning minutes at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
Stanford quarterback Ryan Burns capped that drive with an 8-yard touchdown pass to receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside with 24 seconds left to put the Cardinal ahead 16-13. Burns completed five of eight passes for 66 yards in the drive. Before that possession, Burns and backup Keller Chryst had only 77 yards passing in the game.
"They made some plays," said UCLA coach Jim Mora, whose team is 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the Pac-12. "We didn't change coverages. We didn't change approach. That's a good football team."
Stanford scored its last touchdown on a 58-yard fumble return by defensive tackle Solomon Thomas, who picked up a ball dropped by UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen with no time left following a sack by linebacker Joey Alfieri.
Burns, a senior who won his first road game as Stanford's starting quarterback, said he was never discouraged despite struggling early.
"Yeah, I got off to slow start, but it's how we battled and finished that's most important," said Burns, who completed 13 of 25 pass attempts for 137 yards. "That shows what kind of team we have."
Rosen completed 18 of 27 pass attempts for 248 yards with one touchdown pass and no interceptions. Stanford's defense held UCLA's rushing game to only 77 yards.
The Bruins' defense, led by 10 tackles each by linebacker Jayon Brown's and cornerback Jaleel Wadood, kept Stanford and Heisman trophy candidate Christian McCaffrey in check most of the game. McCaffrey managed to gain 138 yards on 26 carries, but his longest run was only 13 yards. He was limited to 72 all-purpose yards in the first half, tied for his fewest in a first half.
"I'm proud of the way we played," said Mora, who is 0-6 against Shaw. "I think we could run the ball better, but in terms of physicality we weren't pushed around."
Before Burns' touchdown pass, UCLA limited the Cardinal to three Conrad Ukropina field goals. Ukropina's last field goal cut the lead to 10-9 with 10:55 left in the fourth quarter.
UCLA responded with a nine-play drive that resulted in a 35-yard field goal by J.J. Molson with 6:32 remaining.
Two possessions later, Stanford put together its final drive, starting at its own 30 with 2:05 left.
UCLA led 10-3 at halftime with its defense limiting Stanford to only 147 total yards at that point. McCaffrey was held to 59 yards on 10 carries and Burns had only 63 yards passing while completing seven of 12 pass attempts.
Stanford appeared as if it would be in control from the start, driving the ball after the opening kickoff 50 yards on 10 plays in 5:55. But the UCLA defense made a stand to keep Stanford to a 37-yard field goal by Ukropina with 9:05 left in the first quarter.
UCLA took a 7-3 lead with 18 seconds left in the first quarter on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Rosen to receiver Nate Iese and a Molson point-after. That touchdown was set up by an interception of a Burns pass by UCLA linebacker Kenny Young, who made a return to the Stanford 26.
Molson put the Bruins ahead 10-3 with a 27-yard field goal with 2:01 left in the half, capping a 13-play, 70-yard drive that took 5:02.
NOTES: UCLA's record against ranked teams before the game was 8-2 in the last two seasons. They went 4-1 against ranked teams in each of the last two seasons before the loss to Stanford on Saturday night. ... Stanford is 6-1 in games played at the Rose Bowl since 2010, including the bowl game. ... Stanford figures to only improve. Only 24.5 percent of this year's Cardinal roster is composed of fourth- and fifth-year seniors. Underclassmen make up 75.5 percent of the 2016 roster. ... Heading into the game, Rosen moved up to eighth on the all-time school completions list (367) at BYU last week, ninth on the passing yardage list (4,585) and to 10th on the all-time total offense chart (4,578).