Even with the Heisman Trophy season put together by Alabama’s Derrick Henry, there were still those who thought Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey was the most outstanding (the Heisman definition) and complete football player in America. On Friday, McCaffrey tallied 368 all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns to lead the Cardinals to a 45-16 rout of the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Rose Bowl.
The true sophomore hurt the Hawkeyes, as he hurt other teams on the Cardinals’ schedule, in a number of ways. He scored on a 75-yard pass from quarterback Kevin Hogan on the game’s first play.
Early in the second quarter, McCaffrey scored again on a 63-yard punt return to put his team ahead, 28-0. While he did not score a rushing touchdown, McCaffrey ran for 172 yards on 18 carries.
It was 35-0 at halftime and just a few questions remained unanswered. First, what would be the final margin of victory? Second, how many records would McCaffrey break?
The answer to the first was not decided until Iowa’s final play, when quarterback C.J. Beathard lost a fumble at the Stanford 20. The second question was answered with 2:33 remaining.
When McCaffrey caught a 7-yard toss from Hogan, it gave him 105 yards receiving making him the first player in Rose Bowl history to have 100 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving. His 368 all-purpose yards also set a new Rose Bowl record.
McCaffrey’s Rose Bowl performance was his second consecutive monster game on the big stage. In Stanford’s 41-22 victory over Southern California in the Pac-12 Championship Game, he tallied 461 all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns.
It was this game, together with his body of work for the entire season that led many, but not a majority, to contend he was deserving of the Heisman Trophy. He ultimately finished second to Henry.
After the Rose Bowl, McCaffrey was asked about his attitude about not winning the award. He didn’t take the bait.
“All the great players play with a chip on their shoulder,” he said.” That’s why you see successful teams do what they do because they don’t worry about individual accolades.”
That is certainly true of this Stanford team. Hogan made significant contributions by throwing for three touchdowns while Quenton Meeks took an interception 66 yards into the end zone. The Cardinal defense stuffed the Iowa rushing attack, holding them to 48 yards.
Stanford was clearly the best team on the field on Friday. Without question, Christian McCaffrey was the best player on the field … if not the best player in the country.