Christian McCaffrey‘s second Heisman campaign is off to a much better start than his first. Especially on the final scoreboard.
The tailback racked up 210 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns as Stanford held off Kansas State 26-13 in the season opener for both teams. The Cardinal had no need to blame their body clocks for the effort but head coach David Shaw has plenty to work on after a lackluster showing in the second half gave the Wildcats a chance to claw back into the game.
Quarterback Ryan Burns finished 14-of-18 for 156 yards and a touchdown in his first start. The redshirt junior looked impressive early on in replacing school record holder Kevin Hogan and completed every pass up until halfway through the 3rd quarter. As Shaw promised, backup Keller Chyrst rotated in during the second quarter to lead a scoring drive but didn’t play much the rest of game as the offense struggled in the second half.
Luckily the Cardinal’s defense, replacing a number of key starters from last season, kept a pesky KSU offense in check most of the night. Dallas Lloyd and Quenton Meeks both recorded interceptions and the team racked up eight sacks on the night.
Kansas State failed to get much of a running game going beyond quarterback scrambles and failed to score in the red zone several times in the second half. Starting QB Jesse Ertz was generally ineffective in his first game back since injuring his knee in the opener last season but did finish the game with 207 yards passing, a score and an interception.
Ertz was downed for a safety with just over four minutes to go in the game that appeared to all but end any hopes of a win. But veteran head coach Bill Snyder had a trick up his sleeve and the team recovered an onside free kick on the ensuing play. KSU promptly marched 66 yards for a touchdown on a great throw by Ertz to freshman Isaiah Zuber to cut the lead to six.
But it was once again McCaffrey to the rescue for the Cardinal. Helped by a vicious block, the Heisman favorite ran 41 yards untouched to the end zone for the final points of the night to ice the victory for the Pac-12 favorites.
Stanford will be off next week before hosting USC in a rematch of the league title game from last year. Kansas State will play Florida Atlantic in their home opener in two weeks.