Aziz Shittu jumps offsides to turn third and nine into third and four, but yet another coverage sack drops C.J. Beathard. Then, on fourth down, Christian McCaffrey fields his first punt of the afternoon, and Iowa can defend the play no better than No. 5's first catch of the afternoon. He runs past two players immediately with the help of his blockers, and then he cuts upfield in the open field to make one Iowa defender [Edit: their leading tackler, it turns out] miss. That's all it takes, as there's great downfield blocking – I think I see Trenton Irwin getting a man 50 yards downfield, and that's a 63-yard punt return for McCaffrey. For him to not win the Heisman in light of what we've seen in just 16 minutes today is a tragedy.
Stanford 28, Iowa 0, 14:12 remaining
Wonder if this might be Stanford's highest finish ever? Assuming the Card do go onto roll in a rout, they'll pass No. 5 Iowa and presumably No. 4 Michigan State in the polls. Depending on how closely voters adhere to the final CFP standings, it may be a matter of picking between the two-loss Cardinal and two-loss Oklahoma for the No. 3 spot.
As Iowa punts to a McCaffrey fair-catch after just one first down, let me note that 346 yards is the all-purpose Rose Bowl record, courtesy Wisconsin's Jared Abbrederis in 2012. Christian McCaffrey is on pace for about 700 yards, as he's north of 200 less than 20 minutes in.
Cardinal come out heavy and it's McCaffrey off left guard for four. Next snap is Hogan to Devon Cajuste for a six-yard hitch to move the chains. McCaffrey goes off left tackle the very next snap and runs all the way untouched, but Devon Cajuste is called, correctly, for holding cornerback Desmond King near midfield. Next snap, King yanks on Cajuste's facemask, so Cardinal are to the Hawkeye 42 with a fresh set of downs. Hogan overthrows an open Barry Sanders on a screen – Hogan was also high to Cajuste on the facemask call – and that overthrow sets up an interesting sequence. On second down, Remound Wright gains nine, and then Wright gains maybe a half-yard on his third-and-short leap, so it's fourth and inches at the Hawkeye 33. Cardinal are going for it, again in a heavy set, and Remound Wright has two yards running behind fullback Chris Harrell going off left tackle.
Then the Cardinal with their wrinkle of the week. Per Musberger, they'd been practicing it all week, and Hogan and McCaffrey simulate a fumble on the handoff. Both players bend over to the ground, and per Musberger, players yell out "fumble" during practice. But Hogan has the ball all along, the safety is frozen, and it's an open Michael Rector in the back right corner of the end zone for a 31-yard score.
Stanford 35, Iowa 0, 8:22 remaining, first half
Maybe those fumbles late against Oregon were just to set up this play? I kid, I kid. Quenton Meeks drops Beathard on a second-down scramble five yards short of the sticks, and with a stop and a score here, Card could go into the locker room up 40-plus. Instead, Matt Vanderberg beats Meeks on an inside move for a 15-yard catch-and-run.
Austin Hooper, Josh Garnett, Blake Martinez, Aziz Shittu and Kevin Hogan among the Stanford names that scroll by as NFL Draft prospects on the crawl. On a third and two, about four different Stanford defenders get penetration to snow under the runner one yard in the backfield. That extra yard turns out to be crucial as Iowa looks to be inches short on a fourth-down halfback dumpoff to the right sideline, but on measurement, the Hawkeyes move the sticks by a literal inch. After another first-down rushing, Hawkeyes are on the tenth play of their drive and false start. On the resulting first and 15, Stanford has just seven in the box, but no worries, as Blake Martinez fills and drops the runner after just three yards. Iowa's tried to run this drive, and they've had halting success, but against a conservative Stanford defense with relatively few defenders in the box. Advantage, Cardinal.
Iowa isn't even looking downfield at this point, checking down on third and long to make for a slightly easier field goal attempt.
Kevin Hogan is 5-of-8 for 128 yards and two scores, with nearly all those yards coming on his first throw – the 80-yard catch-and-run from McCaffrey, and then his last throw – the fumblerooski pass to Rector. McCaffrey has 232 all-purpose yards, and total yards are 230 to 127 Cardinal. Hawkeyes then false start on fourth and seven. On what's now fourth and 12, Blake Martinez and Peter Kalambayi combine to jostle C.J. Beathard and knock off his helmet, blowing the play dead and counting as a sack. Card will have time for that two-minute drill to try to hit 40 by the half.
Card come up empty-handed, though not for lack of effort, as after two McCaffrey touches, Hogan bombs incomplete to Michael Rector and Isaiah Brandt-Sims in the end zone. Hawkeyes from their 12 after Alex Robinson's second punt of the afternoon.
Musberger: "If I were an NFL team and were looking for a head coach, David Shaw would be my first stop. He'd have to tell me no."
Shaw, paraphrased: "We don't try to make statements, we just try to play our best football. We take whatever the score is... all that matters is how we play." ... "McCaffrey is the best player in the country and is going to be mad that he didn't have yet another touchdown."
Stanford 35, Iowa 0, Halftime
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