Top Performers: Stanford's Christian McCaffrey and Solomon Thomas, Florida's Antonio Callaway
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
The versatile McCaffrey once again proved why he should be a Heisman Trophy finalist after a record-setting game against USC in the Pac-12 Championship. Between rushing, receiving, returning and even passing, McCaffrey finished with 461 all-purpose yards, bringing his season total to an astonishing 3,496 yards. Not only did McCaffrey break Barry Sander’s previous mark of 3,250 yards, the sophomore running back also scored three touchdowns: one rushing, one receiving and one passing. McCaffrey opened the day with an 11-yard pass to Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan on a well-designed trick play in the second quarter, and then score twice in the fourth on a 28-yard touchdown catch and a 10-yard rushing score. The Cardinal went on to win the Pac-12 title in convincing fashion, 41-22.
Solomon Thomas, Stanford
Stanford and USC remained tight throughout the first three quarters of the Pac-12 Championship, but Thomas’s 34-yard fumble recovering touchdown at the end of the third shifted all the momentum squarely with the Cardinal. After Stanford took a four-point lead with three minutes to go in the third quarter, the Trojans looked to cut into the deficit on the ensuing possession. But before USC reached midfield, Cardinal linebacker Blake Martinez knocked the ball out of USC quarterback Cody Kessler’s hands, and Thomas scooped up the loose ball at the 34-yard line and took it to the house for six. Thomas also registered a sack on the day as Stanford cruised to victory.
Antonio Callaway, Florida
Florida took its first and only lead of the SEC Championship match with Alabama thanks to a nice punt return touchdown from Antonio Callaway. After a booming punt forced Callaway to receive the ball at the Florida 15-yard line, Callaway turned on the jets and stormed right up the center of the field for the 85-yard touchdown score. Not a single defender touched Callaway during his return, and the lightning-fast freshman wide out gave the Gators a 7-2 lead early in the second quarter.