Many thought Stanford running back/wide receiver/returner Christian McCaffery was the best player in college football during 2015. He didn’t win the Heisman Trophy, but was given the AP Player of the Year award.
As the new year rang in, the sophomore had a chance to prove the voters who missed on him wrong and the AP voters who gave him that honor correct. It took all of one play for McCaffery to do that and more, as he single-handily beat down the Iowa Hawkeyes in Stanford’s 45-16 Rose Bowl victory.
Following Stanford taking the opening kick, McCaffery lined up in the backfield, took a pass route up the middle and burned the entire Iowa defense for a touchdown on the first play of the game.
It was the first of two touchdowns for the star sophomore in the first half alone. Stanford never looked back from that opening touchdown and unloaded the entire offensive playbook during the first half as well.
That dump of the playbook also included a fake fumble for a touchdown pass to add insult to what was already injury to Iowa’s hopes and dreams of Rose Bowl glory.
Stanford put up 21 points in the first quarter alone, setting a Rose Bowl record for most points in a first quarter.
McCaffery finished the first half with that 75-yard touchdown reception and a 63-yard punt return for a touchdown as the Cardinal were up 35-0 at intermission.
By that point he had already racked up 87 yards rushing, 98 yards and one touchdown on three receptions and 63 yards on that single punt return — all if adding up to 248 all-purpose yards in the first half alone.
Iowa managed to muster up just 123 total yards of offense as a team for comparison. The Hawkeyes averaged just 2.3 yards per carry and the run game was rendered useless as a five touchdown disadvantage meant a lot more passing than running was in order.
Quarterback C.J. Beathard wasn’t bad, going 9 of 15 passing in the first half, but it equaled only 65 yards and included an interception in the mix as well. He finished the game passing for 239 yards and two touchdowns, but none of it mattered with the game out of hand by the time the first quarter was over.
McCaffery didn’t let up much in the second half either, recording a Rose Bowl record 368 all-purpose yards. He also became the only player in Rose Bowl history to rush for over 100 yards (175) and have 100-plus yards receiving (105).
History was made, and the Hawkeyes were on the wrong end of a trivia question once again.