Everybody wondered just how Stanford would be able to replace the production of superstar running back Christian McCaffrey on offense and starter Bryce Love decided to make sure nobody had to wait to find out.
Love busted open a 62 yard run on the first snap of the 2017 Sydney Cup in Australia and that was about all the Cardinal needed to showcase for Cardinal fans back in the states to ease their fears as the team steamrolled an overmatched Rice squad to the tune of 62-7 in Week 0 action from down under.
As impressive as the junior tailback’s day was (180 yards and a touchdown on just 13 carries), the most surprising part of the offense was how sharp Keller Chryst was under center. The quarterback was a solid 14-of-24 for 253 yards and a pair of touchdowns, remarkable numbers for somebody who tore his ACL nine months ago in the team’s Sun Bowl victory over North Carolina. Backup running back Cameron Scarlett also shouldered the load offensively, scoring three times before halftime and finishing with 115 all-purpose yards.
Maybe the best news of the day for Stanford head coach David Shaw was the debut of freshman Colby Parkinson. The top recruit already looks like the next in line at the NFL tight end factory and may pose even more matchup issues for future opponents as he learns more of the offense.
The Cardinal’s defense also stepped up with a solid outing after losing one of the Pac-12’s best players to the draft as well in top five pick Solomon Thomas. The Owls were held to under four yards a play and failed to convert a third down until just before the start of the final quarter. New Rice starting QB Sam Glaesmann barely had any time to throw, completed just seven passes and was sacked twice.
All in all, just about what we expected for a College Football Playoff contender going up against a rebuilding Conference USA team on the other side of the globe. The real test awaits when both return stateside but, either way, it’s certainly nice to wrap up the first college football Saturday of the season even if things got a little out of hand in Sydney.