The Stanfurd Football program is the Pac-12 North train that just won't stop chugging. With the recent decline of Oregon after the departure of Marcus Mariota, the Cardinal team and its faithful might as well plan an annual pilgrimage a few cities over to Santa Clara every first weekend of December. Much to the heartache of Cal fans worldwide, there's nothing—in the near term—that's going to stop this beast of a train....
The Cardinal began 2015 with quite a thud—losing at Northwestern on the opening weekend. The theorists out there tried to chalk it up to the (random) mid-day start time (which equated to an early-morning start time on the West Coast), but the fact was that the Cardinal dumped any National Title chances they had with that initial lost.
But, after losing to the Wildcats, Stanfurd reeled off eight straight wins, including seven wins that had extremely lopsided final scores for the Cardinal (However, they beat Wazzu by only 2 points, 30–28). During this streak, Furd beat the likes of #6 U$C and #18 UCLA. In game #10 of the season, Furd ran up against a streaking Oregon Ducks team (which was in the middle of its redemption tour after being bums earlier on in the season) and lost 36–38.
The Cardinal finished their regular season with three straight impressive wins, including dominating the Big Game at home against Cal, beating #6 Notre Dame, and then owning the Pac-12 Championship game against #20 U$C. Furd's payoff for going an impressive 11–2 was another (ugh!) Rose Bowl berth—this time against #5 Iowa. While many expected this to be a competitive match-up against the Hawkeyes, the Cardinal demoralized their Big Ten competitor, 45–16.
What was the secret to the Cardinals' success, you ask? One word—McCaffrey. Christian McCaffrey was absolutely the man for the Cardinals, essentially guaranteeing video game–like highlight reels every single game. Whenever he touched the ball, you had to hold your breath and literally pray he wouldn't pull another DeSean-like play out of his hat of tricks (at least that's what Cal fans did). McCaffrey finished the season with 337 carries for 2,019 rushing yards and 8 rushing TDs. Through the air, often from Kevin Hogan's screen passes, McCaffrey had 45 receptions for 645 receiving yards and 7 passing TDs. He led the Cardinal in both rushing and receiving, en route to being the Heisman Trophy runner-up.
Cal vs. Stanfurd
Cal headed over to the Farm on Saturday, November 11 and proceeded to not getting back the Axe yet again (It's been six straight years now...). That McCaffrey kid? Yeah, he destroyed the Bears with 192 rushing yards and a school-record 389 all-purpose yards. He was certainly the story of the game for Cardinal fans.
For Cal fans? Well, it was a game of general ineptitude on the ground and mere average-ness through the air. Between Tre Watson, Vic Enwere, and Jared Goff (the only Cal rushers of the game), the trio amassed only 98 rushing yards on 23 carries. Cal's passing game was better, but not by much. Goff completed 37 of 54 passes for 386 yards, 2 TDs, and 0 INTs (78.9 QBR).
Stanfurd's stout defense shut down the Bears all game long, not allowing a TD until the 3rd quarter (when they already had the game well in hand).
While the final game stats show a Cal team that technically produced more than the Cardinal, Cal just could not contain the big, explosive plays. Which is exactly what McCaffrey provides Furd. Next season, if Cal is going to go toe-to-toe with the Cardinal and reclaim our rightful Axe, then let's hope these new exciting recruits bring a whole new playmaking dimension to the Cal offense.