Cardinal defensive line doing a better job of keeping contain as we start the second half much like we closed the first – with a defensively-dominant three and out. McCaffrey back to return the punt after racking up 240 yards in a half for the fourth time this season. No other FBS player has done that, per the ESPN ticker. He's at 248 yards as the Cardinal take over on their after a short punt that died in front of No. 5.
McCaffrey runs for six and then Hooper catches for 11. If Hooper goes pro, I think we might miss his blocking nearly as much as his more obvious pass-catching, as he was way downfield on McCaffrey's long first-half runs. McCaffrey runs for 30 after an open-field cutback that has me audibly gasping. Cardinal in the red zone but Hogan can't find a well-covered Cajuste on a bomb, testing Iowa star Desmond King, Remound Wright runs for short yardage, and a screen to Francis Owusu is batted down at the line.
Stanford 38, Iowa 0, 11:09 remaining, third quarter
McCaffrey now at 284, closing in on the all-purpose Rose Bowl record. Part of me is glad he didn't win the Heisman if it motivates him to try to make yet another quantum leap in the upcoming offseason, much like he did in the past season.
Iowa's offense can muster only a three-and-out, and their performance against Stanford's defense is every bit as surprising to me as how dominant Stanford's offensive unit has been. The Hawkeyes ran up the middle twice for three yards and then threw a dropped six-yard flare route on third and seven. If folks think Stanford's offense is boring, just remember, we could be Iowa fans.
Card from their 35. McCaffrey outgaining Iowa 285-252, and outscoring the Hawks 14-0 too. He runs for one yard, and then fakes a second-down run before an inside screen to Hooper gains six. Third and three, and make that third and eight as Hooper jumps early. McCaffrey runs for seven, bringing up fourth and six inches at the Card 44. Given the scoreboard, the Cardinal will punt. Instead, the long snap flies over Alex Robinson's head and the Hawkeyes will start on the Cardinal 25.
Best field position on the day for the Hawkeyes, but they move in the wrong direction in a hurry as Solomon Thomas sacks for ten yards as no one can come open. 12-yard catch on second, and a dropped snap and throw into the dirt on third. Fourth and eight, and the Card are one play away from erasing that high long snap. Instead, though, Beathard fakes right and then veers to his left to buy time, and Iowa hits the checkdown man just across the sticks on perhaps their most impressive play of the day.
Hawks now in the red zone proper, but again they're moving backwards, this time thanks to a run for no gain followed by a false start. Kalambayi tips away the second-down ball at the line and Iowa's tight end can't adjust to the deflected pass. And then the pocket collapses on third down, with Mike Tyler – big game for him, he's my No. 1 candidate for a 2016 breakout player – first to get home.
Iowa settles for a face-saving 39-yard field goal.
Stanford 38, Iowa 3, 3:36 remaining, third quarter
Big Ten now down 76-3 in its two marquee games of the year for those keeping track at home. With the SEC and Pac-12 both strong thus far, Oklahoma State-Ole Miss and Oregon-TCU might end up deciding conference supremacy during this year's bowl season. But yet again the West outperforms expectations, which is either one incredible fluke or evidence that the nation systemically underrates the conference, your choice.
McCaffrey returns to the 28 on his first kickoff return of the day. I would get him the record and then get him out of there – let Bryce Love break a few ankles, as I think he's equally capable. Would love to see us go two-RB formations, or, better yet, a three-wide, one-back formation with Love or McCaffrey as the slot guy. Anything to get those two out on the field at the same time as frequently as possible come September.
Now though it's all No. 5, and he runs off left tackle for 11 to move the chains. He's at 331, so now 15 yards away from Jared Abbrederis. He adds on another four, and then Hogan keeps for nine on a zone read to again move the chains, with the ball now on the plus-side of the field. Card take timeout with 1:34 left in the third and the ball at the Hawkeye 48.
Love the call to find Love on an end-around, but the play loses two. Shows what we all know. Then a six-yard screen to McCaffrey comes back on a Garnett hold and then Hogan is lucky not to be intercepted on an inaccurate intermediate throw to Michael Rector. Not Hogan's finest day passing the ball, and he'll be sacked to end the quarter, but it doesn't matter one bit.
Stanford 38, Iowa 3, End Third Quarter
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