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#15 Stanford
Cardinal
(9-2 • 8-1 Pac-12)

35

Final

November 21, 2015 • Stanford, Calif.

Next Home Game » Notre Dame • 11.28.15
Cal
Bears
(6-5 • 3-5 Pac-12)

22

11.20.15 » Notebook: Final Thoughts

In the history of Stanford football which spans nearly 120 years, only 12 senior classes have gone undefeated against Cal. That figure could increase Saturday night if the 15th-ranked Cardinal prevails in the 118th Big Game at Stanford Stadium.

Read




Remound Wright's resiliency gives Stanford an early 7-point advantage

Football » McCaffrey TD

OH HEY #WILDCAFF. 49 yards to the house on ESPN.#GoStanford #BeatCal

Posted by Stanford Athletics on Saturday, November 21, 2015
Christian McCaffrey slips by multiple defenders on his way to the endzone

McCaffrey sprints 98 yards to give Stanford a 15-point lead

Football » Remound Wright TD

Remound Wright bullies his way into the endzone & pushes the Stanford Football lead to 12, live now on ESPN.#GoStanford #BeatCal

Posted by Stanford Athletics on Saturday, November 21, 2015
Remound Wright bullies his way into the endzone & pushes the Stanford lead to 12

Bryce Love shows off his speed on this 48-yard TD run
STANFORD, Calif. – Stanford clinched a berth in the Pac-12 Championship Game and kept the Axe by beating Cal, 35-22, in the 118th renewal of the Big Game, thanks to another huge game by Heisman Trophy candidate Christian McCaffrey.

The sophomore scored two long touchdowns within a four-minute span of the second quarter, gained a school-record 389 all-purpose yards -- the nation’s highest total this year -- and played decoy on the clinching touchdown as the Cardinal beat Cal for the sixth consecutive season.

“If anyone’s seen a football player better than Christian McCaffrey this year, tell me,” said David Shaw, Stanford’s Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football. “I have not seen anybody in America like this kid. The kid’s just truly truly special.”

The victory pits North Division winner Stanford (9-2 overall, 8-1 Pac-12) against either USC or UCLA, who will play for the South Division crown, on Dec. 5 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. After Oregon’s 48-28 victory over USC, it seemed apparent that a Stanford victory would be the only way to hold off the Ducks, who still play Oregon State, for the Pac-12 North spot. Now, Stanford has advanced to its third conference title game in four years.

First, his latest record: McCaffrey broke Glyn Milburn’s Stanford single-game all-purpose mark of 379 from the 1990 Big Game. The product of a Heisman Trophy push, McCaffrey passed the single-season all-purpose yardage totals of Reggie Bush, Marcus Allen, and Mike Rozier from their Heisman-winning years. McCaffrey now has a national-leading 2,807, which trails only the Division I college football record of 3,250 of Barry Sanders from his 1988 Heisman season. With three games left, it would be shocking if McCaffrey didn’t break Sanders’ mark.

But yardage totals seem merely a sidelight to the spectacular nature of McCaffrey’s play. His combination of strength, quickness, speed, elusiveness, and pure grit make him special indeed.

“Football is about instincts,” McCaffrey said. “When you allow your football instincts to take control, in makes football a lot of fun.”

A McCaffrey breakdown: 192 yards rushing on 29 carries (6.6 per carry), one catch for 49 yards, and three kickoff returns for 148. He extended his school record for consecutive 100-yard rushing games to nine.

The Cardinal attack was uncharacteristically sluggish for most of a close first half. But leave it
to McCaffrey, he of the “WildCaff” Heisman push.

With Stanford nursing a 7-3 second-quarter lead, McCaffrey delivered a 49-yard did-you-see-that catch-and-run for a touchdown and then a 98-yard kickoff return moments later. His exploits just before halftime put the Cardinal ahead, 21-6.

Here’s how they happened:

At the Cal 49-yard line, quarterback Kevin Hogan took a short drop, with McCaffrey apparently staying to block. The defensive end stayed home, potentially blowing up the planned screen pass. But left guard Joshua Garnett rode the defender off McCaffrey, who simultaneously broke a tackle. He found running room, evaded another, and another and another. Francis Owusu made a final block downfield as McCaffrey cut right and found open field to the end zone.

Following a Cal field goal with 51 seconds left in half, McCaffrey took the kickoff and burst up a well-protected alley. A Cal player got a hand on him at the Stanford 25, but that was it. McCaffrey settled up the right sideline and outran the Bears the rest of the way. It was his first collegiate kickoff return for a score.

Stanford’s clinching score came when McCaffrey was the object of a play-action fake up the middle, splintering the Golden Bears’ defense that did not pay enough attention to Bryce Love on an end around for a 48-yard touchdown burst with 6:13 left for a 35-16 lead.

“We want to be physical, we want to be tough, and we want to be fast,” Shaw said. “Forget those 20-yard gains of the past. We want 50-yard touchdowns.”

Stanford leaned heavily on McCaffrey and the running game, because Cal did not crowd the box and Hogan chose running plays when given pass-run options. He only threw 12 times, completing seven for 96 yards.

For Cal (6-5, 3-5), quarterback Jared Goff was the Golden Bears’ most dangerous weapon and, for much of the game, he picked apart the Stanford defense. Goff completed 37 of 54 passes for 386 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Cal converted 10 of 18 on third down and had more possession than Stanford, which leads the nation in that category, 31:16 to 28:44.

“I hate the phrase ‘bend but don’t break,’ because it sounds passive,” Shaw said. “We’re not a passive football team. But we wanted to keep the ball in front of us. We didn’t give up the big play. We played smart football and it got us the victory.”

Two plays haunted Cal in the first half. With the chance to match Stanford’s opening touchdown, Cal had a third-and-goal at the Stanford 3 when Goff found Maurice Harris in the back of the end zone for an apparent touchdown. However, as Harris placed his second foot down, he was hit by cornerback Alijah Holder and the ball was jarred loose. After a replay review, the incomplete call was confirmed and Cal settled for a field goal.

That was the Stanford formula, trading touchdowns for field goals, holding Cal to three field goals inside the red zone in building a 21-9 lead. Cal cut the deficit to 21-16 on a three-yard touchdown pass from Goff to Darius Powe with 4:54 left in the third quarter. But Stanford responded with a 12-play, 61-yard drive that ended with Remound Wright’s 1-yard scoring run for a 28-16 lead, and Cal never drew closer.

Wright scored two short-yardage touchdowns, including a second-effort 2-yarder to open the scoring, after he appeared to be stacked up at the 3. They were Wright’s 11th and 12th touchdowns of the season -- all on short-yardage -- and he now has 23 in the past two years.

A fourth-down stop by Stanford at its own 22 in the fourth quarter ended Cal’s best chance to get back in the game and set up Love’s clincher.

Afterward, the Axe was carried off the field by Stanford defensive lineman Brennan Scarlett, a graduate transfer from Cal. It was his first Big Game victory.  Scarlett, who played defensive end at Cal but was asked to play an inside role at Stanford, largely because of injuries, has been the foundation to the Cardinal line.

“I’m really happy for Brennan Scarlett,” Shaw said. “I don’t know where we would be without him.”

Though Stanford refuses to look beyond the next game, the next game could be vital to Stanford’s guarded hopes for inclusion in the College Football Playoff. Losses by Ohio State and Oklahoma State helped Stanford’s cause, but the only way for the Cardinal to return to contention is by beating the Irish, the CFP’s No. 4-ranked team. That game will kick off Saturday at Stanford Stadium at 4:30 p.m. PT.

Still, reaching the Pac-12 championship should carry some weight as well.

“Everyone knows we have the deepest conference in America,” Shaw said. “We have the toughest nine-game schedule in the country. We got what we wanted, we get to go to the Pac-12 Championship Game. Now, we have to put the Pac-12 in a box this week, and get ready for Notre Dame.”
Linescore
 
1
2
3
4
F
Cal (6-5)
3
3
10
6
22
Stanford (9-2)
7
14
0
14
35
Team Stats
 
16
1st Downs
23
356
Total Yards
495
96
Passing
397
260
Rushing
98
2-30
Penalties
8-63
0
Turnovers
0
28:44
Posession
31:16
Passing Leaders
   
C/ATT
YDS
AVG
TD
INT
Goff
37/54
386
7.1
2
0
Hogan
7/12
96
8.0
1
0
Rushing Leaders
   
CAR
YDS
AVG
TD
LG
Watson
14
87
6.2
0
28
McCaffrey
29
192
6.6
0
24
Receiving Leaders
   
REC
YDS
AVG
TD
LG
Treggs
7
102
14.6
1
31
McCaffrey
1
49
49.0
1
49

#gostanford