Kevin Hogan, the winningest quarterback in Stanford football history, will leave a legacy unlike any other quarterback in school history and it's not all about his accomplishments and statistics.
Hogan, about to play in his 50th college football game, prefers to assume a quiet demeanor when he's interacting with the public, though his teammates have an entirely different view of the man who won his first 10 career starts.
"He's someone you want to have on your side forever," said Heisman Trophy candidate Christian McCaffrey, the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year. "I feel blessed to have played with him and to call him a leader. Go back to the USC game, when he hurt his ankle. He came back and just fought and won us that game. After Northwestern, he brought us all together and exhibited nothing but leadership."
Hogan has a chance to lead the seventh-ranked Cardinal (10-2, 8-1 Pac-12) to its third conference title in four years Saturday. Stanford and USC (8-4, 6-3) meet at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara at 4:45 p.m. to determine which team advances to the Rose Bowl.
The Cardinal can still lay claim to one of the four spots for the overall national championship with a win and help from elsewhere.
Whatever happens this weekend, Hogan already has led Stanford to a fourth consecutive bowl game during his career and to its seventh straight overall. Before 2009, the longest streak was three years between 1933-35.
"I'm just trying to do my job the best way I know how," Hogan said. "I'm just trying to do my job the best way I know how. I want to be the person I am and not do anything special. I want to lead by example, to lead the way I believe it should be led."
With a 34-10 record as a starter (and he should be given credit for one more after leading Stanford to a win over Colorado in relief of Josh Nunes in 2012), it's hard to argue. How many other college quarterbacks have played in four bowl games?
"It means the world to me," Hogan told TV sports talk show host Jim Rome. "Just the quarterback tradition at Stanford. When you play this game, you play to win. You don't worry about the individual stats, the touchdowns, the yards. It's a team game and at the end of the day it's the only stat that matters. Just to bring wins to this program is unbelievable."
Hogan spent his true freshman year as an understudy to Andrew Luck. It was Stanford coach David Shaw's first at the helm.
Shaw seemed to know what he had, devising special packages for Hogan through the first five games in 2012. His relief effort against the Buffaloes turned heads as he led Stanford on six consecutive scoring drives, including five touchdowns, and Shaw turned him loose the rest of the way.
"If I had to win one game, he's the guy I'd want," Shaw said. "He's the last guy I worry about. He has maturity, a command of football and he can shrug things off. He's a leader for us."
Hogan proved that last weekend as he led the Cardinal on a game-winning drive in less than 30 seconds, setting up a 45-yard field goal by Conrad Ukropina to beat Notre Dame, 38-36.
"The guy's unbelievable," McCaffrey said of Hogan. "I've never seen a leader like him. He does so many great things for this offense, for this program, for this school . . . We're so lucky as Stanford football players to have that guy as our quarterback."
Despite all his success, Hogan has never been named to the All-Pac-12 first team -- he has been a second-team selection and an honorable mention -- but he has been named the Pac-12 Championship Game MVP and the Foster Farms Bowl Offensive MVP.
He's never won a national award, but Hogan has been named to the Maxwell Award and Davey O'Brien Award watch lists in each of the past three seasons and to the Manning Award and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award watch lists in each of the past two years. Hogan is one of 12 finalists this season for the Manning Award, presented to the top quarterback in the country.
"He doesn't get enough praise," Cardinal senior receiver Michael Rector said. "He came in as a redshirt freshman and has carried us ever since. He's the backbone of this team."
Hogan has completed two-thirds of his 1,070 pass attempts for 9,018 yards and owns a career 153.4 efficiency rating. He became the first Stanford quarterback to rush for more than 1,000 career yards.
"Kevin Hogan has been one of the most consistent players in this league since I've been in this league," Cal coach Sonny Dykes said. "He gives them a chance to win every Saturday and that's about the best thing you say about a quarterback."
For Shaw, in addition to his leadership qualities, Hogan's best asset is game management; how he gets Stanford into the right play, his decision-making and his ability to run a two-minute offense
"It's been outstanding," Shaw said. "At the ends of halves and at the end of the game. He's one of the best quarterbacks in the nation. We put it in his hands."
Meanwhile, Shaw earned Pac-12 co-Coach of the Year honors with Washington State's Mike Leach. McCaffrey was joined on the first team by senior offensive linemen Joshua Garnett and Kyle Murphy, junior tight end Austin Hooper, senior inside linebacker Blake Martinez, and senior defensive lineman Aziz Shittu. McCaffrey also was selected to the first team as a return specialist.
The Cardinal played the Trojans in the third week of the season. In many ways, it was a different year. The Trojans, who started 3-3, have a different head coach.
"We're preparing no differently than we have all season," Hogan said. "The only difference from the first time we played this season are some minor personnel changes and they've gotten a lot better and are playing well. From what I hear, they have a good guy leading them."
Shaw said he'll treat them as completely different games.
"If anything, you look more intently at what they've done since we played them," he said. "We've got to run the ball with efficiency. If they load the box, we've got to make plays on the outside and we have to be able to change field position with the passing game. Kevin has to play a great game as a decision-maker, as a thrower and as a runner. Defensively we have to limit the explosive plays. We've given up a lot of explosive plays the last couple games. It's shaping up to be a real exciting game."