Stanford Football: The One Where I Was Wrong About Everything

The One Where I Was Wrong About Everything

We’ve reached the halfway point of the season and it’s time to revisit my preseason predictions. I thought that Stanford would go 4-2 in the first half with losses to USC and UCLA. Clearly, unlike some of my Last Word on Sports brethren, I need some practice. Don is Nostradamus; I’m basically as good as a coin flip.

 

Opponent

My Prediction

Result

Northwestern

Win

Loss

Central Florida

Win

Win

USC

Loss

Win

Oregon State

Win

Win

Arizona

Win

Win

UCLA

Loss

Win

I should stick to my strengths, like snarking on Lane Kiffin and educating the world about the perils of visor-wearing. 

Eight in a Row

“The ownage continues. Stanford Football is just flat-out superior to UCLA Football in every conceivable way. They demolished the Bruins.”
– Brian Murphy, KNBR 680 radio personality and UCLA alum

Prior to Thursday, Stanford had beaten UCLA in seven straight contests, including the PAC-12 championship. I didn’t think it would get to eight in a row, but this is Paul-Goldschmidt-on-Tim-Lincecum-level dominance (.536 batting average against Timmy). The final score of 56-35 wasn’t even reflective of the actual game. UCLA scored 15 points in the fourth quarter, while the offensive starters had already checked out of the game. Right now, no one has an answer for the Stanford Cardinal.

The WildCaff

I have, at times, been a little… ahem… vocal about the Wildcat. We’ve seen various iterations featuring Tyler Gaffney, Ricky Seale, and most recently, Christian McCaffrey. My issue with the Wildcat is threefold: 1) It is usually predictable, 2) it is generally unsuccessful, and 3) the frequency of which it is called. The Wildcat should be a once-in-a-season kind of thing, not a twice-per-game type of thing. On Thursday, Christian McCaffrey scored two touchdowns from the Wildcat, and maybe I stand corrected? Or maybe that gives David Shaw the license to call twelve wildcats every game, so we’ll see.

Let’s talk some more about Christian McCaffrey. Just two weeks after I wrote an article about McCaffrey’s touchdown paucity, All Guts and No Glory: The Christian McCaffrey Story, he has gone wild. Against UCLA, he amassed 365 yards (243 rushing and 122 on returns) with four touchdowns, and broke Toby Gerhart’s single-game rushing record. After getting off to a slow start, McCaffrey has racked up 720 rushing yards in his past four games. That’s two games with more than 100 yards and two games with more than 200. Despite having just six touchdowns on the season, McCaffrey is invaluable to this Stanford offense. Let me take this moment to remind you that he’s a sophomore and he’s just getting warmed up. The fans obviously know his value and talent, as several Heisman chants broke out in Stanford Stadium on Thursday night. It seems that Leonard Fournette might have some competition for a certain bronze statue in December. If not this season, McCaffrey will be a preseason favorite next year.

The Catch

I’ve saved the best for last. Francis Owusu had one 41-yard catch against UCLA, and boy did he make that one count.

Let me set the stage: McCaffrey, in the Wildcat, hands the ball off to Bryce Love, who flips the ball to Kevin Hogan, who then launches a slightly underthrown ball to the endzone. Owusu, waiting, catches the ball behind the back of the defender, who was either committing pass interference, or trying to get “fresh.” There is no way I can describe this catch, so you should probably just watch it. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

And with that, Owusu has secured himself a spot in College Football’s highlight reel for years to come. It’s the best catch I’ve seen that didn’t involve Willie Mays or Dwight Clark.

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