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Even if you stop Christian McCaffrey most of the time, he can still torch you

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America shouldn’t have to go nine months without Stanford’s running back playing football.

NCAA Football: Kansas State at Stanford Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The last time we saw Christian McCaffrey playing a football game, he was setting fire to Iowa’s Rose Bowl from the Stanford's first play. This was nine months ago Thursday.

Now Stanford’s back, and that’s a joy, because it means No. 5 is back too. And, boy howdy, was McCaffrey doing McCaffrey things in a win Friday against Kansas State, even if they weren’t happening in the perfect sequence that’s become so easy to expect.

The junior started his night by running nine times for 21 yards. A few minutes later, that was 12 for 72 and a touchdown, because McCaffrey hit a home run, 35 yards to pay dirt. He started with barely any room, but he finished with tons.

Kansas State was a legitimate challenge for McCaffrey, and the Wildcats went ahead and played him just fine. Mostly.

On 20 of his carries on Friday, McCaffrey covered 50 yards and a lost fumble.

On two others, he ran for 76 yards and two touchdowns. This was the second, which effectively ended the game:

You can try to capture lightning, but it’s sort of dangerous sometimes. You might do it wrong, and you might get hurt. Did Kansas State really do much wrong in dealing with McCaffrey, though? That’s hard to say. When someone’s as shifty as McCaffrey, desperate times call for desperate measures. They don’t often work.

Kansas State did fine against McCaffrey 20 times out of 22, and it wasn’t all that close to being enough. He’s a cheat code in that way.

McCaffrey finished with 166 yards of offense (including seven catches for 40 yards) and another 44 on three kick and punt returns. Everything felt pedestrian, except when it didn’t.

McCaffrey also had a 96-yard punt return touchdown get called back, due to a block in the back that he might not have even needed.

College football’s back, and there’s not much better about college football being back than Christian McCaffrey being back right along with it.