Christian McCaffrey set a school record and tied another one and those accomplishments took a back seat to a touchdown catch by Francis Owusu that has to be seen to be believed. Even then it's a little unbelievable.
McCaffrey rushed for a school record 243 yards and scored four times and the 15th-ranked Stanford football team downed visiting UCLA, 56-35, in a Pac-12 Conference contest Thursday night.
Kevin Hogan threw for 131 yards and three touchdowns as the Cardinal (5-1, 4-0 Pac-12) beat the 18th-ranked Bruins for the eighth consecutive time. Austin Hooper, Devon Cajuste and Francis Owusu each caught a touchdown pass.
Cornerback Alijah Holder returned an interception 31 yards for the first touchdown of the contest. McCaffrey, who had 369 all-purpose yards, returned a kickoff 96 yards to set up Hooper's touchdown pass.
"We've got a big back in a little body," Cardinal coach David Shaw said of McCaffrey. "He's a heck of a football player, not just a great runner."
The 369 all-purpose yards are the most by any FBS player this season. McCaffrey took over the national lead in all-purpose yards with 1,518.
"We put up 56 points against a good defense and that's something," McCaffrey said. "But I still think we haven't played our best football. We left a lot out there."
The Cardinal has a few extra days to prepare for Washington, which visits Stanford a week from Saturday.
Stanford put up another 310 rushing yards, though Bruins quarterback Josh Rosen put 325 passing yards and UCLA outgained the Cardinal by a 506-441 margin overall.
"We have won a lot of football games here playing smart, playing good football," Shaw said. "It's having our guys trust the plan, the guys trust the coaches and the coaches trust the players, and the guys trust each other. We just played football and had fun."
Holder's interception return for a touchdown was the first pick six by a Stanford defender since Paly grad Kevin Anderson returned an interception for a score in the 2014 Rose Bowl against Michigan State.
"It was a tough loss against a good team," UCLA coach Jim Mora said. "The pick six, the kickoff return for a (near) touchdown, the nine offensive penalties, those are tough things to overcome."
It was tough to watch McCaffrey run all over his defense too. That included a 70-yard run out of the wildcat formation.
"McCaffrey is a great player. You see him on film and he's even better in person," Mora said. "He runs hard, he's elusive, fast and physical."
There may not be enough adjectives in the dictionary to explain Owusu's phenomenal touchdown catch early in the second half that literally drained the Bruins.
UCLA drew within 35-17 in the final seconds of the first half and had the first possession of the third quarter. Aziz Shittu stopped Paul Perkins for a one-yard line loss and two passes didn't get the Bruins anywhere.
"I got frustrated after we couldn't score on the first drive of the second half," Rosen said. "It's frustrating because I wanted to make a statement."
Instead, Owusu made the statement with his incredible catch, with a UCLA defender all over him, a pass interference call already made.
The play began in the wildcat formation, in which McCaffrey took the direct snap. He handed off to Bryce Love, who tossed it to Hogan, originally lined up as a receiver.
Hogan threw the ball slightly behind Owusu, who still managed to catch the ball against the defender's back and maintain possession as both players fell to the ground.
"I saw it for a little bit and then from there I felt the ball after that," Owusu said. "I didn't really see it and squeezed as hard as I could when I felt it."
Shaw thought it was incomplete and was looking away when he was told the catch went for a touchdown. He had to smile.
"I can't describe that catch," Shaw said. "I don't understand what happened to be honest."
Said McCaffrey: "That's one of the most amazing things I've ever seen."