Southern California's dejected players trudged off the Rose Bowl field, oblivious to the celebration going on around them.
Their national championship hopes had just ended.
UCLA knocked USC out of the Bowl Championship Series title game with a stunning 13-9 victory over its crosstown rival Saturday. The Bruins did it with a vastly improved defense and a quarterback starting on three days' notice.
"Give credit to UCLA. They made it a difficult day," said USC coach Pete Carroll, whose team lost for just the fourth time in its last 59 games. "They kept us from doing what we wanted to do. We had no rhythm. We did not anticipate this happening."
Neither did most fans of either team. The Trojans hammered the Bruins 66-19 last season to lock up a second straight appearance in the BCS title game, and figured to win again to make it three in a row.
It wasn't to be.
"I didn't believe it until the clock hit zero. All we wanted to do was stay close and get a chance to win," UCLA coach Karl Dorrell said.
UCLA's Patrick Cowan passed for 114 yards and ran for another 55.
As Pac-10 champs, the Trojans will return on New Year's Day and be in the Rose Bowl.
The Trojans moved into position for a potential winning touchdown before Eric McNeal deflected and then made a diving interception of John David Booty's pass at the UCLA 20-yard line with 1:10 remaining.
The Trojans got one final shot, but Booty's desperation pass from the USC 12 with six seconds left fell incomplete.
Besides having their national championship hopes ended, the Trojans had their NCAA-record streak of 63 games in which they had scored 20 or more points snapped.
The Bruins will face Florida State in the Emerald Bowl on Dec. 27 in San Francisco.
No. 21 California 26, Stanford 17
BERKELEY, Calif. - Nate Longshore passed for 217 yards and the host Golden Bears beat the Cardinal for the fifth straight year in the 109th Big Game.
Tom Schneider kicked four field goals for Cal, which heads to the Holiday Bowl to play Texas A&M on Dec. 28.