Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey didn’t come into Thursday’s game against UCLA as a serious contender for the Heisman Trophy, but at the end of the night, his name was definitely in the hat.
McCaffrey, who didn’t play the fourth quarter, rushed 25 times for 243 yards and four touchdowns, and accounted for 369 yards of total offense in a 56-35 beating of the Bruins.
The 243 yards were the most in a single game by a Stanford rusher since Toby Gerhart rushed for 223 yards in a game in 2009. McCaffrey’s four touchdowns tied a school record. And his 369 all-purpose yards was a season high in the FBS this season and gave McCaffrey the nation’s lead in that category heading into Week 7.
McCaffrey, a sophomore, had a slow start to the season as he struggled for rushing yards against Northwestern and UCF. However, once he got into Pac-12 play, things changed quickly.
In four Pac-12 games, McCaffrey hasn’t rushed for fewer than 115 yards and has two 200-yard rushing games.
And he’s a big reason that despite the season opening loss to Northwestern the Cardinal aren’t out of the College Football Playoff picture just yet.
Looking at the rest of Stanford’s schedule, there are definitely opportunities for McCaffrey to continue his surge and in turn continue Stanford’s ascent to where many thought it should have been all along.
In the spring and in the preseason, coach David Shaw said he wanted to get McCaffrey more involved in the offense. McCaffrey had been great for the Cardinal between the 20s, but in terms of touchdowns, he was continually subbed out in the red zone. After his performance Thursday, Stanford has to acknowledge that McCaffrey could be a national award winner and in turn they need to treat him like such.
And if the results continue to look like they did on Saturday – both in the stat sheet and on the scoreboard — no one should have a problem with that gameplan.
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