Sports

McCaffrey runs with a purpose in Cardinal's Rosy victory

 

Christian McCaffrey added a punt return for a touchdown to his expanding resume, not that he needed to show anything more than he has during a remarkable, record-setting season.

For Stanford football fans, it was more of the same. McCaffrey continued to prove the importance of an all-purpose running back to an offensive attack an set a Rose Bowl record with 358 all-purpose yards and becoming the first player in the game to rush for more than 100 yards and gain more than 100 receiving.

McCaffrey made an imprint in the rushing (172 yards), passing (105 receiving yards) and return (91 yards) games to lead fifth-ranked Stanford to an improbable, 45-16, lop-sided victory over No. 6 Iowa in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Friday.

With defenses forced to account for McCaffrey on every play, the Cardinal showcased its impressive offensive line, Kevin Hogan's play-calling ability and other weapons like receiver Michael Rector, who caught two passes, both for touchdowns.

Stanford's defense put on its own dazzling performance, keeping the Hawkeyes off the scoreboard in the first half for the first time all season.

Quenton Meeks returned an interception for a score, Blake Martinez confirmed his tackling prowess and Aziz Shittu (10 tackles, eight solo) was a monster on the defensive front.

The Cardinal needed one play to extinguish Iowa's vaunted defense. Hogan, who passed for 223 yards and three scores, threw a short pass over the middle to McCaffrey, who came out of the backfield to catch it and then race to complete a 75-yard touchdown, the second-longest in Rose Bowl history and the longest allowed by Iowa all season.

"He's having the best season by any position player ever and the stats show it," Stanford coach David Shaw told a national audience at halftime. Point taken.

Iowa, which never trailed by more than 14 points in a game until Friday, allowed its first touchdown on an opening drive of any half this season. It took a Heisman Trophy finalist to accomplish it.

The Rose Bowl featured the best two college football teams not among the final four. It would be a mistake to judge the Hawkeyes on this performance. Iowa won its first 12 games and was in position to beat Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game. Stanford was just that much better.

"We don't try to make statements, we want to play good football," Shaw said. Mission accomplished.

Stanford averaged 10 yards on 25 plays during the first half. Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard threw for 65 yards, 10 less than Hogan threw on the game's first play.

The Hawkeyes needed 39 plays to do 123 yards, a 3.2 average, through the second quarter. They didn't cross into the end zone until the fourth quarter.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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