Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey wasn’t on anyone’s Heisman radar when the 2015 college football season began.
Sports Illustrated highlighted the other two finalists, Derrick Henry and Deshaun Watson, while CBS focused its preseason Pac-12 attention on Oregon RB Royce Freeman, who did have a strong 2015 campaign, rushing for 1,706 yards with 14 touchdowns on 257 carries.
Yet here McCaffrey is, a finalist for the prestigious award, and that’s the beauty that shines from the uncertainty of the college game.
While many critics are quick to list Derrick Henry as the favorite to win the Heisman, McCaffrey clearly has a list of impressive accomplishments that have earned him the right to be heavily in the mix.
Let’s dive deeper into McCaffrey’s season, ranging from team performance, to season stats and individual performance against key opponents.
Stanford Team Performance
Anyone that thinks team performance doesn’t matter is just kidding themselves – just look at past winners and the three finalists that were named.
Stanford finished the season 11-2, winning the Pac-12 but coming up short on the College Football Playoff. Despite missing a shot at the National Championship, the Cardinal still ranks 6th in the country and will face #5 Iowa in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.
The Cardinal’s two losses came on September 5th (at Northwestern, losing 16-6) and a two-point defeat at home against Oregon on November 14th.
Each of the other two finalists (Derrick Henry and Deshaun Watson) will be featured in the College Football Playoff, but Stanford’s solid season is still worth talking about.
Christian McCaffrey: 2015 Season Overview
McCaffrey posted dominant numbers on the ground, despite getting next to no attention at the
beginning of the season. In fact, by the end of the year, he was toe-to-toe with preseason favorites Derrick Henry and Leonard Fournette.
McCaffrey has 1,847 rushing yards on the season, second only to Alabama’s Derrick Henry and ahead of the aforementioned Fournette. His 142.08 yards per game average was fifth best in the country, though despite these gaudy numbers, he managed just eight rushing TD’s.
If able to rush for 153 yards against Iowa’s stout defense, the Stanford sophomore will join an elite club of 2,000-yard rushers – and almost certain to join Derrick Henry this season.
By season’s end, McCaffrey was easily one of the best (and most surprising) stories of the 2015 college football season.
Christian McCaffrey: Individual Performances – Highs and Lows
While Christian McCaffrey managed the second most rushing yards in the country, how did he fare in games against elite competition? Here’s a quick sampling of stat-lines and performances that stick out more than others:
- McCaffrey’s best game of the season was Stanford’s 56-35 win against UCLA, where he rushed 25 times for 243 yards and four touchdowns
- His weakest performance was the first game of the year (at Northwestern), where despite a 27-yard carry, he had 11 additional rushes for 39 additional yards
- McCaffrey fared well against Washington’s defense (29th against the run), carrying the ball 23 times for 109 yards, while adding in 5 catches for 112 yards and two total TD’s
- In the final game of the year (the Pac-12 clincher), McCaffrey posted 312 total yards with two total TD’s, including 207 rushing yards on 32 carries
- 10 of his 13 games were 100-yard performances, including 10 of his final 11 games, with the one that wasn’t being a 94-yard rushing performance vs. Notre Dame
Overall, the Northwestern performance was minimal at best, although it was in early September and McCaffrey clearly picked up steam as the season progressed.
So, does Christian McCaffrey get your vote for the 2015 Heisman trophy?
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