Last Saturday night I’m flipping between the ACC, BIG 10, and PAC 12 Championship games (all broadcasted at the same time which is stupid but that’s for another day). Christian McCaffrey for the Stanford Cardinal is one of the front-runners for the Heisman Trophy. Stanford beat the USC Trojans 41-22 to win the 2015 PAC 12 Championship. He had a fantastic game rushing for 207 yards on 32 carries, passed for a touchdown, 105 receiving yards on 4 receptions, 120 yards in kick returns, and 29 yards in punt returns. That’s 461 all-purpose yards in one game leading the Cardinal to a 41-22 win over the Trojans. With that performance he broke Barry Sanders record of 3250 all-purpose yards which is incredible! I can see why he’s as Heisman candidate and deserving of a trip to New York . It wowed me so much I decided to look at his season statistics to see how this guy did it. It didn’t take me long for me to realize that the defenses he played against were not the best and some were just flat out bad.
Stanford went 11-2 losing only to Northwestern and Oregon. Out of the 13 defenses McCaffrey faced, seven of them were ranked 87th in total defense or worse. That’s out of 127 FBS schools (Colorado: 87, Washington State: 93, California: 109, Arizona: 113, Oregon: 115, UCF: 114, Oregon State: 116). That’s 54% of the schedule! These aren’t mediocre defenses. These are awful defenses. They only played two in the top 30 (Northwestern: 12 and Washington: 28). In comparison Alabama and Derrick Henry played only two bottom ranked defenses (Auburn: 90 and ULM: 92). They played three top 8 defenses (Wisconsin: 3, Florida: 6, and Georgia: 8). Clemson and Deshaun Watson played two bottom defenses (South Carolina: 96 and Syracuse: 99) and played five in the top 20 (Boston College: 1, App State: 12, Louisville: 13, Florida State: 15 and NC State: 19). How many more yards could both Henry & Watson put up if they played a comparable Stanford schedule? How many fewer yards would McCaffrey put it up with say an Alabama or Clemson schedule?
Now…let me just say right now I couldn’t win the Heisman Trophy if I was playing against air. The front-runners Derrick Henry, Deshaun Watson, and Christain McCaffrey are all great players and deserve whatever accolades comes their way. These are gifted athletes and that would have success no matter who they played against but it does help when the defenses are bottom dwellers.