Christian McCaffrey’s Monster Night Leads Stanford to Big Win


Sophomore running back Christian McCaffrey‘s monster night led the Stanford Cardinal to a huge 56-35 win, extending their winning streak to five games in a row after a season-opening loss to the Northwestern Wildcats. Against the 18th-ranked UCLA Bruins, the six-feet tall, 200-pound rusher powered the Cardinal attack, as Stanford racked up more than 300 yards on the ground for the third straight week.

McCaffrey, the son of former Stanford and NFL wide reciever Ed McCaffrey, broke the school’s record for rushing yards by piling up 243 yards on 25 carries, and reaching the endzone four times while the Bruins were powerless to stop him. Toby Gerhart held the rushing crown before McCaffrey shattered it, as his 223-yard performance against the Oregon Ducks on November 7th, 2009 was the former benchmark.

More from Golden Gate Sports

Besides the 243 yards on the ground, McCaffrey also picked up 122 yards from kick returns, and four yards as a receiver. His 369 all-purpose yards are the most by an FBS player so far this season, and were just 10 yards shy of the school record set by Glyn Milburn in 1990.

McCaffrey opened the game strong, as he gained 25 yards on the very first play of the night. On his second touch, he returned a kickoff 96 yards before being dragged down out of bounds at the UCLA four-yard line. In the second quarter, he scored twice, once from nine yards out, and another from 28 yards.

In the third frame, McCaffrey went on a 70-yard trot that ended in the UCLA endzone for this third score of the night. With one minute and seven seconds left in the third quarter, McCaffrey scored for the fourth time from six yards out, on what would be his final carry of the evening before he received a well-earned rest in the fourth quarter.

In the postgame interview on ESPN, McCaffrey credited the big hogs up front, his offensive line for “making [his] job easy” by opening up big holes in front of him. He mentioned the well-used cliché, “it all starts up front”. Head coach David Shaw echoed the sentiment, saying the “guys up front worked really, really hard”, as well as give credit to the receivers for blocking down the field to make the big plays happen.

Though McCaffrey was the player of the game, his teammate, receiver Francis Owusu stole the show with his circus catch early in the third quarter.

McCaffrey took the snap out of the wildcat formation, and handed off to Bryce Love on a jet sweep. Love flipped to ball to quarterback Kevin Hogan, who was intially lined up as a receiver. Hogan set and threw a deep bomb towards the endzone.

As flags flew for defensive pass interference, Owusu leapt for the ball, and trapped it against defender Jaleel Wadood‘s back, and somehow managed to keep both of his hands on the ball, even as the two fell to the ground. The touchdown, Hogan’s third of the night and Owusu’s first of the season, put Stanford ahead 42-17, and is already being hailed as the catch of the year. Even the normally stoic head coach Shaw had to crack a smile at the pure absurdity of the catch.

After scoring just six points in the first five quarters of the season, the Stanford offense has opened up, and they look like an offensive superpower. Over the last 19 quarters of football, Stanford is averaging nearly 12 points per quarter.

The season-opening loss to Northwestern knocked Stanford from the rankings after beginning the year seated 21st. Since then, five straight wins, including two against ranked opponents (sixth-ranked USC and 18th-ranked UCLA), have pushed them back up to 15th in the AP Poll, and this win figures to propel them higher.

Next: Stanford: Defeating USC No Small Task