This is where the state of college football is in the state of California: a top-ten Stanford team beat an unranked USC team in a convincing fashion, and it wasn’t at all surprising. After all, Saturday’s 27-10 victory was Stanford’s third win over the Trojans in the last calendar year and its seventh in the pair’s last nine meetings.
This win came much like the others: on the legs of Christian McCaffrey. The All-American carried the ball 30 times for 156 yards and a touchdown, caught four passes for 73 yards and a touchdown and returned a kickoff 22 yards — all in all, a ho-hum 251-yard night.
The first score of the night came when Ryan Burns found a somehow wide open McCaffrey for a 56-yard snag-and-dash at the 4:18 mark of the first quarter. McCaffrey’s second score pushed Stanford’s lead to a comfortable 17-3 when he leaped in from one yard out with 2:11 to go before the half.
USC opened the second half with a 9-play, 75-yard drive punctuated by a 1-yard Ronald Jones II run, but Stanford immediately responded with a 5-minute field goal drive, then nudged the lead to 17 when Michael Rector raced in from 56 yards out with 3:26 to go in the third quarter.
The Trojans couldn’t even tack a cosmetic score on the board as Sam Darnold was intercepted by Noor Davis at the Stanford 8 with 1:47 remaining on the clock.
For the night, USC (1-2) averaged 6.7 yards per attempt on 35 combined passes between Darnold and Max Browne, and Stanford (2-0) owned a 291-117 edge on the ground.
He may not have won the Heisman Trophy this season, but No. 6 Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey is putting on quite the fireworks show against No. 5 Iowa in the Rose Bowl. McCaffrey wasted no time in getting things started when he took a short pass over the middle of the field 75 yards to the end zone on the very first play of the game in Pasadena, putting Stanford up 7-0 just 11 seconds into the game. It quickly went downhill for Iowa from there.
Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan put Stanford up 14-0 about five minutes later and Quenton Meeks picked off a pass from Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard and returned it 66 yards for a pick-six to put the Cardinal up 21-0 in the first quarter. In the second quarter, McCaffrey again got in on the scoring fun with a 63-yard punt return for a score. Moments later, Hogan again connected on a 31-yard touchdown strike, this time to a wide open Michael Rector off a designed fake fumble. All of a sudden, Iowa was down 35-0 midway through the second quarter.
At the half, McCaffrey has 87 rushing yards, 98 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown and 63 punt return yards and a punt return touchdown.
This is the second time this bowl season a Pac-12 team has jumped out to an early 35-0 on its opponent. Utah did the same against BYU, in the first quarter of the Las Vegas Bowl. Utah allowed the Cougars to wiggle back into the game, but if Iowa is going to do that they need to get something going. Iowa was 3-of-10 on third down conversions in the first half and has just 127 yards of offense. Stanford has controlled the football for roughly nine fewer than Iowa, yet the Cardinal have the decisive edge on the scoreboard.
After seeing one Big Ten championship game participant (Michigan State) be shutout in the Cotton Bowl by Alabama, the Big Ten is now staring at its other conference championship game contender be shutout on the big stage.