Sunday, 18 September 2016
McCaffrey, Stanford roll over USC
McCaffrey racked up 260 all-purpose yards – 165 rushing on 30 carries, 73 receiving on four catches, and 22 on a kick return. The Heisman Trophy candidate also scored two touchdowns, the biggest of which was a 1-yard plunge on fourth-and-goal in the second quarter.
That TD, McCaffrey’s second of the game, helped give Stanford a 17-3 lead at halftime. USC closed within a touchdown in the third quarter, but got no closer.
“Coach (David) Shaw always harps on me about being the best I can possibly be,” McCaffrey said. “Being a complete running back, there’s a lot to it – making guys miss and getting as many yards as possible.”
Stanford (2-0, 1-0 Pac-12) has now defeated USC in seven of the schools’ past nine meetings and three times in the span of a year, dating back to Sept. 19, 2015. Still, Shaw said beating the perennial Pac-12 powerhouse isn’t the measuring stick he uses for his team’s success.
“We don’t use anyone but us to set our standards,” Shaw said. “USC has a proud tradition, and they’re a good football team – they’re a better team than the one everyone saw against Alabama (a 52-6 loss). But we play well, and we expect to win.”
McCaffrey became the sixth Stanford player to surpass 5,000 all-purpose yards for his career in the second quarter. The junior has compiled at least 200 all-purpose yards in 12 of his last 13 games and at least 100 in 17 straight.
“Christian’s a heck of a player,” Stanford quarterback Ryan Burns said. “His play speaks for itself.”
Having set the Cardinal’s single-season record for all-purpose yards (3,864) last season, McCaffrey still needs approximately 2,000 to eclipse the career mark of 7,120, established by Darrin Nelson in 1977-78 and 1980-81.
Facing USC seems to bring out the best in McCaffrey. He racked up a school-record 461 all-purpose yards for Stanford in last season’s Pac-12 Championship Game.
Still, Shaw said, “I think the game brings out the best in Christian McCaffrey. I wouldn’t give any team that much credit. He’s got such an internal drive, I know he’s going to get it done on game day.”
McCaffrey had 173 all-purpose yards before halftime, 101 of them on the ground. Both numbers exceeded USC’s first-half totals in those categories – 152 and 62, respectively.
After hauling in a 56-yard TD pass from Burns in the first quarter to help stake Stanford to a 7-0 lead, McCaffrey added another on fourth-and-goal from USC’s 1-yard line late in the second.
In between, placekicker Conrad Ukropina converted a 31-yard field goal in the second quarter, putting the Cardinal up 10-3.
USC (1-2, 0-1) pulled within a touchdown early in the third quarter when sophomore running back Ronald Jones II scored from a yard out. Ukropina booted a 42-yard field goal on Stanford’s ensuing possession to widen the Cardinal’s lead back to 20-10.
The Cardinal increased its lead to 27-10 with 3:26 left in the third quarter after senior wide receiver Michael Rector rushed 56 yards for a TD on a reverse.
Stanford’s defense, meanwhile, gave up the occasional big play and surrendered more than 300 total yards but only allowed one touchdown. Senior linebacker Noor Davis intercepted a pass in the end zone with 1:47 remaining in the fourth quarter to keep the Trojans from scoring again.
“At the end of the day, it’s how many points you score,” senior safety Zach Hoffpaur said. “We held them to 10 points.”
n Ukropina set a school record in the first quarter with his 78th consecutive extra point. The fifth-year senior was 67-of-67 in 2015 and is 6-for-6 this season.
Jordan Williamson set the previous extra-point mark with 77 from 2013 through 2014.
Ukropina’s two field goals made him 23-for-27 in his career, making him the current holder of the highest field-goal percentage (85.2) in school history.
n Burns threw his first career interception in the fourth quarter. USC cornerback Adoreé Jackson picked off the pass, which was intended for Francis Owusu, who was immediately whistled for a 15-yard facemask penalty following the play.
Despite the pick, Burns performed solidly. The fifth-year senior, who had thrown just one collegiate pass before being named Stanford’s starter this season, completed 9-of-15 passes for 109 yards in the Cardinal’s run-oriented attack.
“He’s playing very well,” Shaw said. “I wouldn’t say exceptionally well right now, but for a guy who basically just played his second game, he’s doing pretty good.”