TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Christian McCaffrey took the handoff up the middle, made a little juke and, with a burst of speed, raced past Arizona's flailing defenders. This was the player Stanford had been missing the past few weeks.
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Christian McCaffrey took the handoff up the middle, made a little juke and, with a burst of speed, raced past Arizona's flailing defenders.
This was the player Stanford had been missing the past few weeks.
McCaffrey returned to his tackle-eluding form, accounting for 225 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns to lead the Cardinal to a 34-10 victory over Arizona Saturday night.
"We know that when Christian gets a crease, he does special things beyond the line of scrimmage," Stanford coach David Shaw said.
McCaffrey has had a difficult follow-up to his Heisman runner-up a year ago.
Good early in the season, he missed most of the second half against Washington State on Oct. 8 and did not play the following week against Notre Dame. McCaffrey returned against Colorado last week, finishing with 92 yards rushing on 21 carries.
The shifty junior had a jump in his step against the Wildcats, scoring on runs of 45 and 6 yards to finish with 169 yards on 23 carries. McCaffrey added four catches for 27 yards, including an 18-yard catch-and-run TD .
Bryce Love chipped in 78 yards on 12 carries while giving McCaffrey a break and helped the Cardinal (5-3, 3-3 Pac-12) break out of scoring funk after entering Saturday's game 127th of 128 FBS teams in scoring at 17 points per game.
"This is the first week we've had them both healthy," Shaw said. "This is what we envisioned all year and this is the first time we've been able to do it, and it looked pretty good."
Arizona (2-6, 0-5) had its top two quarterbacks back for the first time since the season opener, yet continued to sputter offensively in its fifth straight loss.
Brandon Dawkins started and threw for 116 yards, including a 38-yard TD pass to Trey Griffey. Dawkins also had 65 yards on 17 yards rushing on 17 carries. Anu Solomon replaced him in the third quarter and lasted just two series, finishing 0-for-3 passing.
"Just like receivers make mistakes, they don't always see when guys are open," Arizona running back Samajie Grant said. "We just have to rep it after practice. We have to stay more after practice."
Part of it was a lack of running game. With Nick Wilson out for an extended period, Arizona was forced to use Grant, a converted receiver, as starting running back.
Grant finished with 64 yards, but Arizona had just 170 yards on 44 carries and finished 286 total yards, 147 below its season average.
"We missed some things up front," Arizona guard Jacob Alsadek said. "Samajie was out there running hard and we need to give him a better chance."
Stanford showed off what it can do offensively when McCaffrey is healthy. The Cardinal defense also held up against Arizona's quick-hitting attack, putting them within a game of becoming bowl eligible.
The Wildcats were again plagued by defensive deficiencies and their receivers had a hard time getting open, often leaving Dawkins and Solomon no choice but to throw it away or take off running.
Shaw made the decision this week to replace fifth-year senior Ryan Burns with junior Keller Chryst at quarterback.
Chryst made some good decisions at the line of scrimmage, picking up alignments and blitzes, and threw a pair of touchdown passes. He also missed a few passes that could have gone for big plays, finishing with 104 yards and an interception on 14-of-30 passing.
"First game as a starter, I get it, he's not going to be Johnny Unitas out there," Shaw said. "He's going to grow. The thing Keller can do is throw the ball down the field and he missed some guys out there."
Stanford hosts Oregon State next Saturday with a chance to become bowl eligible.
Arizona plays at Washington State next Saturday in a game that should be filled with offense.