STANFORD — Francis Owusu’s circus catch in the end zone on Kevin Hogan’s third touchdown pass of the night highlighted a dominating performance for No. 15 Stanford, which rolled to its eighth straight win over No. 18 UCLA, 56-35 on Thursday night.
Christian McCaffrey ran for a school-record 243 yards and four touchdowns while gaining 369 all-purpose yards for the Cardinal (5-1, 4-0 Pac-12), who won their fifth straight in impressive and entertaining fashion against the Bruins (4-2, 1-2).
On a night full of big plays, none topped Owusu’s 41-yard TD catch.
It started with McCaffrey taking a direct snap in the wildcat and handing to Bryce Love on a jet sweep. Love the flipped the ball to Hogan, who had lined up as a receiver on the play. Hogan set himself in the backfield and threw deep to Owusu.
Despite being interfered with by a face-guarding Jaleel Wadood in the end zone, Owusu still managed to trap the ball against Wadood’s back while not even being able to see it. Owusu managed to keep his hand on the ball to maintain control as the two fell to the ground, leading to the touchdown that even drew a smile from the usually taciturn coach David Shaw.
Hogan threw for 131 yards on eight completions and McCaffrey took over the national lead in all-purpose yards with 1,518 for the Cardinal, who have scored 225 points the past five games after being kept out of the end zone in a season-opening 16-6 loss at Northwestern.
McCaffrey scored on a 70-yard run out of the wildcat after Owusu’s catch and added his fourth touchdown from 6 yards out later in the third quarter as he broke Toby Gerhart’s school record of 223 yards rushing in 2009 against Oregon.
Josh Rosen threw for 325 yards and three touchdowns. Paul Perkins ran for 104 and a score, but the Bruins still dropped their second straight contest to fall further back in the Pac-12 South race.
Stanford maintained its dominance in this series with its most overwhelming performance in decades. The Cardinal have outscored the Bruins 277-131 during the current streak and had their highest-scoring game against the Bruins since a 57-0 win in 1929.
The Bruins’ injury-depleted defense had no answer for the power running and trick plays from Stanford’s offense. The Bruins have lost star linebacker Myles Jack and three other defensive starters to season-ending injuries and the absences showed against the Cardinal.
The offenses had their way for most of the first half, but Stanford went into the break with a 35-17 lead thanks to a 31-yard interception return for a touchdown by Alijah Holder that opened the scoring, a 96-yard kickoff return for McCaffrey that set up another score and numerous penalties on UCLA that thwarted its drives.
McCaffrey, who had just one rushing touchdown the first five games, also ran for two scores in the first half.
UCLA receiver Kenneth Walker was ejected late in first half for a targeting penalty on a block on Stanford linebacker Blake Martinez.