For walk-on running back Pat McFadden, Saturday night's 55-17 win against Arizona was the thrill of a lifetime. The junior from Sunfish Lake, Minn., received his first playing time in a Stanford uniform and rushed for 10 yards on three carries.
Afterward in the noisy Stanford locker room, he was mobbed by teammates, several shouting, "Speech! Speech! Speech!''
"It was unreal," he said. "I'm in my third year now and you sit on the sidelines, and so many games I've dreamed of going in there. And then you finally get to go in with 10 of the guys you have been grinding with day in and day out and have a chance to prove yourself and to fight with your brothers, which is awesome."
McFadden said his heart raced when he got the call in the fourth quarter.
"They yelled my name and I ran out there and had to slow down for a little bit. It was such a cool experience," said McFadden, whose older brother Conor played at Stanford
The locker room reception capped his night.
"That goes to show the character of this team," he said. "They're as excited about us scoring the first touchdown as myself getting in for my first carry. It shows a lot about how much this team cares about each other."
Stopping the run
The Stanford defense knew the key to winning was stopping the Arizona running game. Coming into the game, the Wildcats led the Pac-12 Conference in rushing and running back Nick Wilson led the conference and had surpassed 100 yards in three-consecutive games.
The Cardinal limited Arizona to 118 yards and Wilson to 46. The unit also collected six tackles for loss.
"It's 11 guys doing their job," said defensive lineman Aziz Shittu, who had five tackles, two for loss, and one sack. "It's hard to beat that on defense. We really wanted to key in on that run to make sure they didn't rack up yards, because that's how they get their offense going."
Shittu and Brennan Scarlett were nicked up against Oregon State, but started against the Wildcats. When they went down, others stepped up.
"We love seeing guys just get out there and perform," he said. "When the next group goes in, there is no drop-off. We saw that last week."
Nice cameo by Chryst
Sophomore quarterback Keller Chryst came in for one play in the second quarter and handed off to sophomore running back Christian McCaffrey, then sprung him for a 25-yard gain around right end by leveling cornerback Cam Denson. McCaffrey was the first to congratulate Chryst, playfully slapping him several times.
"We put the play in this week and repped it a few times," said the 6-foot-5, 233-pound Chryst. "Never really full speed, so I was just going out there trying to do what I could do to kick out that corner and let Christian do his thing."
Chryst also ran for nine yards on a keeper in the third quarter and threw his first collegiate touchdown pass, a six-yarder to fifth-year senior Rollins Stallworth late in the fourth quarter.
"It was fun to get out on the field and finally get some actual game plays and get a drive or two going," said the former Palo Alto High standout. "A few third-down conversions that are good practice for me."
In addition, Chryst ran for a 33-yard touchdown that was nullified by a holding penalty.
"I got lucky," he said. "I don't think I ever had a run like that high school. Great blocking downfield. We didn't get that one but we ended up finishing the drive."
Running game shines
For the third-straight game, Stanford churned up big yardage on the ground. The Cardinal rushed for 314, led by McCaffrey with 156.
"We knew going into the season we had the talent to do this week in and week out," said senior offensive tackle Kyle Murphy. "It just boils down to execution. It's finally all coming together and the backs are getting in sync."
The Cardinal offense scored on its first eight possessions.
"That's a great feeling and takes a lot of pressure off our defense," Murphy said. "It gives us that in-game momentum that we really need and can feed off of. It's great to see all the running backs get touches and yards."
Sanders' big TD
For the second game in a row, senior running back Barry Sanders ran for a 65-yard touchdown.
"It was actually a play we put in at halftime," Sanders said. "We had practiced variations. I was just fortunate to be the one who ran it. The guys up front opened it up for me and I was just glad I was able to finish."
Sanders said one of the best parts of the win was seeing so many guys play and contribute.
"That's the goal every week, to have everyone play," he said. "That means we're doing something right. It's encouraging to see guys get reps that wouldn't otherwise. As brothers, we love to see that."
Good time for a bye
Stanford is idle next week and resumes play Oct. 15 in Thursday night home game against UCLA. Murphy said the bye is welcome.
"I think it's coming at a good time," he said. "We've got a few guys banged up, thankfully nothing too serious. It's going to be nice to get off our feet a little. The last three games have been physical matchups and we pounded the rock a lot. Next Saturday, we're going to be watching games and wishing we were out there, but we only have 10 days or so until we play UCLA, so it'll come quick."
He's catching on
Freshman wide receiver Trent Irwin caught four passes for 53 yards. He now has seven on the season and four have produced first downs on third down.
"I'm just going out there trying to help my team any way I can," said Irwin, a five-star recruit from Valencia (in Southern California), who set state records for career receptions (285) and receiving yards (5,268) and scored 61 touchdowns. "If they need me out there, I'll try to go in and make a big play."
Irwin has settled into his new environment on and off the field.
"It's a great place," he said. "The coaches here are great and the people here are unique. It's been a fun experience."
Now No. 16
Stanford climbed two spots to No. 16 in the new AP poll released Sunday. The Cardinal is the only team in Pac-12 play with a 3-0 record.
Statistically, McCaffrey and senior inside linebacker Blake Martinez now lead the FBS in individual categories. McCaffrey is No. 1 in all-purpose yards, averaging 229.80 yards/game, 14th in rushing yards with 601 and 20th in yards/game at 120.2. Martinez is first in total tackles with 63 and averages 12.6/game.
Additionally, fifth-year senior quarterback Kevin Hogan ranks eighth in passing efficiency at 169.8 and 18th in completion percentage at .675. He has thrown nine touchdowns and only two interceptions.
Fifth-year senior running back Remound Wright tallied three touchdowns against Arizona and now has eight on the season, tied for 26th nationally.
Stanford, which led the conference in time of possession, dominated again, 37:19 to 22:41. The Cardinal didn't punt until the fourth quarter and kicked only once in the game. Stanford ranks fourth nationally (35:00) in time of possession . . . . Senior kicker Conrad Ukropina was 2-for-2 in field goals and has now converted 7-of-8 attempts this season . . . Neither team committed a turnover . . . Stanford women's basketball coach Tara VanDerveer served as the honorary captain . . . Following the first quarter, the women's athletic program was honored for winning the 2014 Capital One Cup as the best in the country. Student-athletes from many sports gathered on the field to accept the award.