Saturday night was a great one for the college football programs that serve as settings in A COACH AT HEART, as Stanford and San Diego State both won their conference championship games.
The Cardinal sped past USC 41-22 in the Pac-12 championship game as sophomore running back Christian McCaffrey ran for 207 yards and a score, threw a touchdown pass, caught another and broke Barry Sanders’ single-season all-purpose yards record. Figure him to be one of the finalists for the Heisman Trophy in New York City next weekend.
Stanford is headed to the Rose Bowl to face Iowa, and is ranked fifth in the final Associated Press Top 25. The Cardinal and Hawkeyes both just missed the college football playoff.
Remember the season preview in which I wrote that the Northwestern game was the key to the season? It was, maybe not for the reasons I thought, but that opening day loss is what’s keeping the Cardinal out of the sport’s final four.
The Aztecs, who defeated every other Mountain West opponent by at least 14 points, finally ran into a team in Air Force that refused to bow down and make a bunch of mistakes in their league’s championship contest in San Diego. The Falcons went toe-to-toe with the Aztecs before falling 27-24.
SDSU unveiled its own star Christian during the game. Redshirt freshman quarterback Christian Chapman made his starting debut because season-long starter Maxwell Smith suffered a knee injury in the regular-season finale. Chapman threw for 203 yards while completing nine passes in 14 attempts and kept a couple of scoring drives alive with scrambles.
The Aztecs, whose 10-win season isn’t receiving much credit because of September’s upset loss to South Alabama and the down year experienced by the MW, was among those “Others Receiving Votes” in the AP Top 25, getting enough for the equivalent of 30th.
The Aztecs will play Cincinnati in the Hawaii Bowl.
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