PASADENA, Calif. -- No. 21 Arizona State left little doubt who the best team is in the Pacific-12 Conference South Division, rumbling into the venerable Rose Bowl on Saturday and beating No. 13 UCLA 38-33.
The victory gave the Sun Devils a spot in the conference championship game. Arizona State will play Stanford in two weeks.
The only question now is the location of the game. A Sun Devils victory over in-state rival Arizona next week means Arizona State would host the game in Tempe. A loss would result in Stanford playing at home.
Those details will be sorted out in due time. For now, the Sun Devils are the Pac-12 South champions after holding on to beat the Bruins, who rolled into the game on a three-game winning streak but could not overcome a dreadful first half in which they fell behind 35-13.
The Sun Devils turned away the Bruins' last-minute comeback bid by tackling wide receiver Jordan Payton short of a first down in the closing seconds.
It was one of a handful of critical stops and answers by the Sun Devils in a wild second half.
UCLA drew to within 38-33 on a 27-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brett Hundley to wide receiver Shaquille Evans early in the fourth quarter. But with a chance to take the lead late in the quarter, Hundley was sacked by the Sun Devils, kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn's 38-yard field goal attempt sailed wide and UCLA came away empty-handed.
It was the second big sidestep of the second half for the Sun Devils after UCLA crept within 35-27 early in the third quarter on running back Myles Jack's 3-yard run and a 1-yard run by running back Paul Perkins. The Sun Devils answered with a 28-yard field goal by kicker Zane Gonzalez to create some breathing room at 38-27.
Hundley was sacked eight times by the Sun Devils, whose defensive line dominated the Bruins' young offensive front.
Arizona State dominated the first half, cruising to 35-13 lead behind the running and passing of quarterback Taylor Kelly, who accounted for two touchdowns, and a defense that stiffened to hold UCLA to two field goals after surrendering a first-quarter touchdown.
Kelly passed for 149 yards and a touchdown and ran for 84 yards and a score in a scorching first half in which the Sun Devils took complete control.
Kelly's first score, on a 3-yard run, capped a seven-play, 76-yard game opening drive, and his second put Arizona State up 35-13 with five seconds remaining in the half on a 19-yard pass to wide receiver Jaelen Strong.
In between, running back D.J. Foster ran for a 3-yard touchdown, linebacker Carl Bradford intercepted a Hundley pass and returned it 18 yards for a touchdown, and quarterback Michael Eubank scored on a 1-yard run for the Sun Devils.
The Bruins got a 42-yard touchdown pass from Hundley to wide receiver Devin Lucien and two field goals by Fairbairn, but they were done in by a relentless Sun Devils running attack that slashed them for 208 yards.
NOTES: Coming into Saturday, Arizona State had forced at least one turnover in 24 consecutive games, an active streak that ranked third in the FBS behind Missouri and Stanford, They extended the streak to 25 when Carl Bradford returned an interception for a touchdown in the second quarter. ... UCLA sophomore Myles Jack, who started the season at linebacker then added running back to his duties the last two weeks, played exclusively at running back in the first half on Saturday.