Stanford vs. UCLA Instant Analysis

    Francis Owusu's catch, Christian McCaffrey's all-purpose Heisman night, and Stanford's blow out win over the Bruins. It was a brilliant night for the Cardinal.

    October 16, 2015


    Stanford 56, UCLA 35 Instant Analysis

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    1. Francis Owusu catch of the year – at least

    Christian McCaffrey had a Heisman-caliber night – more on that in a moment – and Stanford came up with a blowout win, but all anyone is everyone will remember and talk about is THE catch. Francis Owusu only made one play on the night – a 41-yard touchdown grab – but it just doesn’t look quite right on the stat sheet.

    Yeah, fine, so it wouldn’t have actually been a catch at the next level with the way he landed and the ball pushing up after touching the ground, but that’s the NFL’s fault for having a stupid way of determining what is and what isn’t control of the ball. The play itself was cool – with a terrific end around toss – but the key to the grab’s greatness was how Owusu was all but slugged in the mouth by defensive back Jaleel Wadood, had his head turn to the side, and still stuck out his hands to make the catch – Owusu never actually saw the ball come down into his hands. The guy caught the ball on a guess.

    2. Stanford’s introduction to America. Sort of.

    Most of the world wasn’t watching, mainly because it went on well past 2 am on the East Coast, but this was the moment when Stanford announced its arrival as the favorite from the Pac-12 – not Utah – to get to the College Football Playoff. The Northwestern loss doesn’t matter as long as the Cardinal win out, and now that the UCLA game is out of the way, it’s Washington, at Washington State, at Colorado, Oregon, Cal, Notre Dame. That’s just not that bad, at least until the showdown with the Irish that could turn out to be for a spot in the playoff.

    But other than the Owusu catch, and other than the Cardinal coming up with a blowout, oh yeah, another guy just entered the Heisman race.

    Christian McCaffrey was in the midst of a strong season of all-purpose yardage, and then he blew it off the charts with a 96-yard kickoff return as part of the 122 on the night, a catch for four yards, and 25 carries for 243 yards and four touchdowns. The offensive line had a whole bunch to do with that – the NFL talents up front were blasting away some huge holes – but he was also brilliant. Leonard Fournette, you have a fight on your hands.

    3. UCLA’s stats are misleading, but …

    Despite the two interceptions, and a lot of the yards came in garbage time, Josh Rosen threw well. He came up with a few brilliant NFL-caliber throws on the way to 325 yards and three scores. His receivers provided a lot of help with some terrific grabs, but Rosen showed glimpses of why he’s in for a brilliant career – even though it got ugly. Throw in the 104 yards and a score from Paul Perkins, and there were some nice performances from the offense. They just came way too late.

    Fortunately for the Bruins, this loss probably doesn’t matter if they win out. With Cal at home, then Colorado, at Oregon State and Washington State up next, there’s time to get past this. Beat Utah on the road, beat USC across town, get a little help from some Arizona State losses, and the Pac-12 South title is still possible. To do that, though, the defensive front has to get a lot more physical in a big hurry after losing two straight.

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