Setting a Stanford record for rushing yards in a game is pretty impressive. Christian McCaffrey of the Pac-12’s Stanford Cardinal did it in just three quarters against the UCLA Bruins on Thursday night in Palo Alto. McCaffrey began the game known to most fans around the country mainly as the son of former Stanford All-American Ed McCaffrey, who spent 13 seasons in the NFL, and won three Super Bowls with the 49ers and Broncos.
The 6’0″, 200 lbs running back from Castle Rock has his own legend now. McCaffrey broke T0by Gerhart’s single-game rushing record of 223 yards that had stood since 2009. He not only broke a team rushing record, but he also set a FBS season high with 369 all-purpose yards, including 243 rushing yards, 122 return yards, and a four-yard catch.
The game against the UCLA Bruins was just five minutes in when McCaffrey first announced his arrival to a nationwide ESPN audience, or at least what was left of it for a 10:30 p.m. kickoff time on the East Coast.
With 7:22 left, McCaffrey took a Ka’imi Fairbairn kickoff back for 96 yards, setting the tone for the game as Stanford took an early 14-3 lead on a four-yard Kevin Hogan pass to Austin Hooper one play later.
After a quick-strike, 70-yard touchdown from Josh Rosen to Darren Andrews made it a four point game, it looked like fans might be in store for another high-scoring Pac-12 shootout. However, McCaffrey and his Stanford teammates dominated over the ensuing three and a half quarters, dismantling a depleted Bruins defense by a score of 56-35.
With defensive starters Eddie Vanderdoes, Fabian Moreau, and Myles Jack all out of the game for UCLA with season-ending injuries, McCaffrey made it 28-10 with eight minutes left in the second quarter on a nine-yard touchdown run, his first score of the night.
Just before halftime, McCaffrey blew through a gaping hole off the left side of the Stanford offensive line, which spent the majority of the game having its way with the Bruins’ front four on defense.
At the 5:35 mark of the third quarter, McCaffrey became the FBS leader in all-purpose yards for the season after his 70-yard touchdown sprint off of a direct snap was good for his third touchdown, giving Stanford a dominating 49-20 lead.
The storyline of the game stayed consistent following UCLA freshman Josh Rosen’s second interception of an up-and-down night in which he completed 22 of 42 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns for UCLA. On the following drive McCaffrey powered in his fourth touchdown of the night on a 6 yard run, for what was ultimately Stanford’s final scoring play of the game as they took a 56-20 lead in an unexpected blowout of a Pac-12 rival once considered a primary contender for the conference title this season.
The 3rd quarter ended as Christian McCaffrey had already eclipsed Gerhart’s 2009 single game rushing record by 20 yards, and his stat line read an astonishing “25 carries, 243 rush yards (record), 4 TD, 369 all-purpose yards” according to David Lombardi of ESPN. He did not add to those totals, as he sat for the fourth quarter.
As a high school senior, McCaffrey told Fox Sports that he stood at 5-foot-10 and less than 180 pounds, so he often was mistaken for a kicker.
“A lot of times I got confused for a kicker. And I’ve been compared to every white player in the NFL.”
After the game he had tonight in front of a nationwide audience, nobody will be likely to mistaken Christian McCaffrey for a kicker again any time soon.
[Image Credit: Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images Sport]