By Samuel Curry
No. 14 Stanford football (1-0) easily handled the Rice Owls (0-1) on college football’s opening day Saturday, running away to a 62-7 rout in the Sydney Cup.
The Cardinal did not take their time in establishing their dominance over the Owls, jumping out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter before extending their lead to 38 points before the half.
Bryce Love and Cameron Scarlett may have had something to do with that.
The pair of junior running backs combined for four touchdowns in the first half, with Love wasting no time in proving himself a worthy successor to Christian McCaffrey, running 62 yards on the first play from scrimmage. He would go on to set a new career high in rushing yards before the half and ended the game with 180 yards on 13 carries.
Scarlett finished the game with 59 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, as well as a 56-yard reception.
“Bryce is going to be our lead dog,” head coach David Shaw said. “But it’s nice to know we’ve got some guys who can back him up. I’m excited about where Bryce is heading into this season. We don’t want to wear Bryce out in any one game, so those guys have got to come out and make plays like they did today.”
The Stanford defense was just as impressive the offense Saturday, allowing the Owls only 71 total yards and three first downs in the first half. The Rice offense would fare better in the second half against Stanford’s reserves but still would finish the game with just 241 total yards and a late rushing touchdown.
Sophomore quarterback Sam Glaesmann had a rough start to his collegiate career, completing just seven passes for 69 yards on 18 attempts for the Owls.
“We’re a better team than we showed today,” Rice head coach David Bailiff said. “When you play against a team like Stanford, or any elite team, you have to be at your very best. And we made some poor decisions early.”
Numerous freshmen saw the field and contributed significantly on Saturday: an uncommon theme for the Cardinal in the David Shaw era.
Freshman tight end Colby Parkinson caught a ball in the corner of the endzone to cap off Stanford’s first drive of the season. He would also come down with a jump ball in the endzone early in the second half to finish his day with two touchdowns.
Senior quarterback Keller Chryst, as well as quarterbacks fifth-year senior Ryan Burns and sophomore K.J. Costello, had another freshman as their favorite target as wide receiver Connor Wedington was Stanford’s leading receiver, hauling in six passes for 83 yards.
Freshmen tackles Walker Little and Foster Sarell also made their college football debuts in Sydney.
As for Chryst, it certainly was not a perfect day, but he showed no signs of injury and commanded the offense effectively, throwing 14 completions for 253 yards on 24 attempts and leading the Cardinal to 404 total yards in the first half. Stanford would finish the game with 656 total yards, the highest total for the program since 1999.
“It was great to see Keller Chryst come and be completely healthy, and be able to run the show from the quarterback position,” Shaw said.
Now, after a week full of cultural exchange and new experiences, both teams face a long flight home.
“We’ll take a bit of Sydney with us when we leave, and hopefully we left a little bit of Stanford in Sydney,” coach Shaw said.
Stanford will take a week off before heading to Los Angeles to face off against the USC Trojans in a pivotal Pac-12 matchup Sept. 9. As for the Owls, they will also take a week off before facing UTEP in El Paso.
Contact Sam Curry at currys ‘at’ stanford.edu.