If there was concern that No. 14 Stanford couldn’t adequately replace running back Christian McCaffrey, Bryce Love might have taken care of that on the first snap of the Cardinal’s season.
Love broke free for a 62-yard run to set up a quick touchdown as the Stanford running game didn’t miss a beat during a 62-7 season-opening victory over Rice on Sunday in Sydney, Australia.
Love finished with a career-high 180 yards on only 13 carries. The speedy junior, who averaged 7.2 yards per carry as McCaffrey’s understudy, eclipsed his previous career high of 129 rushing yards, set last season at Notre Dame. He topped 100 yards after five carries against Rice.
Backup running back Cameron Scarlett scored three times — all in the first half as Stanford led 38-0 at the break. Scarlett ran eight times for 59 and had a 56-yard reception.
While the Cardinal was establishing its usually potent ground game — rolling over a Rice team that was 3-9 last season — more good news came with the return of starting quarterback Keller Chryst, who passed for 253 yards in just over one half of work in front of 33,181 at Allianz Stadium.
Chryst, coming back from a torn ACL in the Sun Bowl, completed 14 of 24 passes with two touchdowns before giving way to Ryan Burns and K.J. Costello, who finished the scoring with a 25-yard run with 1:52 to go.
Still more good news for Stanford was the debut of freshman Colby Parkinson, who was rated the nation’s top tight end recruit in the 2017 class. He caught three passes for 40 yards and two touchdowns. The first was a 13-yarder in the right corner of the end zone that came on his first college play with less than a minute gone in the game.
Rice redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Glaesmann, who beat out redshirt sophomore Jackson Tyner in camp, completed 7 of 18 passes for 69 yards and an interception. Tyner directed two possessions in the second half, but Glaesmann came back in to lead the Owls’ only scoring drive, capped by Austin Walter’s 23-yard run around right end with 6:19 left.
Stanford had a 656-241 edge in total yards.
The 55-point margin of victory was the program’s second biggest since 1949, topped only by a 58-0 victory over Washington State in 2008.
Stanford scored on its first four possessions. Scarlett muscled in for a 2-yard touchdown run, and Love made it 21-0, scoring on a 10-yard burst through the middle.
Scarlett’s 29-yard run gave the Cardinal a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter.
The Cardinal had seven plays of 20 yards or longer in the first half, including a 56-yard reception by Scarlett en route to his third touchdown — a 1-yard run — for a 35-0 edge with 3:40 to go before halftime.
Stanford kicker Jet Toner hit a 40-yard field goal for a 38-0 lead on the final play of the first half.
NOTES: Stanford starting RT A.T. Hall did not make the trip because of an undisclosed injury. ... Rice began its first possession with a false start penalty, followed by a delay-of-game infraction. ... This was the first game Stanford played outside of the United States since meeting Arizona in the Coca-Cola Bowl in Tokyo in 1986. ... Stanford defeated visiting Rice 41-17 to end the 2016 regular season. That was the teams’ first meeting since 1964. ... Rice was scheduled to leave Sydney on Monday morning (in Australia) for Los Angeles. The school announced that no decision on the remainder of its trip home to flood-ravaged Houston would be made until arriving in Los Angeles. ... Stanford is off until Sept. 9, when it opens Pac-12 play against preseason No. 4 USC in Los Angeles. ... The Owls play at UTEP on Sept. 9.