2015 Pac-12 Football Championship Game: Stanford's Christian McCaffrey makes record-breaking Heisman case
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Stanford topped USC 41-22 to take home its third Pac-12 title in four years. But while the entire Cardinal team celebrated under the rain of gold confetti, the night belonged to Christian McCaffrey.
David Shaw perhaps said it best: “Here is the best player in the nation.”
McCaffrey was voted the 2015 Pac-12 Football Championship Game Most Valuable Player – and it wasn’t even close. The sophomore running back and Heisman hopeful ran through record after record, racking up yards like it was going out of style. He finished the night with 461 all-purpose yards – a Pac-12 Football Championship Game record, a Stanford single-game record (breaking Glyn Milburn’s 1990 record of 379 by almost 100), and a personal best for McCaffrey.
[Related video: Cardinal claims third Pac-12 title with win over USC]
“He’s as special a player as we’ve played all season,” USC head coach Clay Helton said postgame. “He’s just one of those kids that finds ways to make yards and obviously add the backfield and the passing game, and he’s a mismatched nightmare.”
If carrying his team to a Pac-12 title wasn’t enough of a Heisman resume builder, McCaffrey went a step further, breaking Barry Sanders' NCAA record for single-season all-purpose yards set in 1988. Sanders’ record was 3,250. McCaffrey finished the 2015-16 season with 3,496. Oh, and he has one game left to play. McCaffrey was a bit in awe of the accomplishment after the game.
“That’s a huge honor," McCaffrey said. "That’s a guy I had posters of on my wall growing up, so to have my name mentioned in even in the same category as him is definitely an honor.”
After the confetti is swept up and College Football Playoffs are decided, the big question will still remain – should Christian McCaffrey be your 2015 Heisman Trophy winner?
“I mean, what doesn’t he do?” USC linebacker Su’a Cravens stated. “In my opinion, he should win the Heisman.”
The stats agree with Cravens. The Cardinal running back will finish this season (minus a bowl game) with 1,000 more yards than any other player in the FBS. He lacks the big, flashy touchdown numbers with Stanford opting to use Remound Wright in short-yardage goal line situations, but McCaffrey was the workhorse that got them into the red zone.
[Related video: David Shaw talks about the Cardinal's resilience in 2015]
“You see that flash of lightning and the kid explodes through the hole,” Shaw said. “It’s just phenomenal. It’s been fun to watch.”
McCaffrey’s leap in productivity from last season is astounding. During his 2014 season, he accumulated 705 all-purpose yards. What contributed to his incredible rise?
“First and foremost, he got the ball more. Second of all, really…the biggest difference…was just the knowledge of all the blocking schemes, of all the plays, and knowing who he is reading,” Shaw said. “We talked about him in the spring – that he’s going to have to handle it all. And he has.”
Despite his record-breaking game, McCaffrey was quick to praise and credit his teammates, his offensive line and his quarterback. You won’t find the humble running back clamoring for attention or discussing whether or not he deserves a trip to New York. He will, however, admit one thing.
“No, I have not [been to New York City before]. I would love to go.”