On Saturday night Bryce Love became another player in a long line of Stanford Cardinal football legends to be a runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. Oklahoma Sooners QB Baker Mayfield took home the Heisman as expected. Love joined Toby Gerhart, Andrew Luck, and Christian McCaffrey on the list of Stanford greats that were finalists for the Heisman but not winners. It was the fifth time in 8 years a Cardinal great finished second in the Heisman.
Bryce Love may not have won the Heisman Trophy, but his 2017 season was an absolute privilege and a thrill to watch. Pity the poor Heisman voters who deprived themselves that opportunity. Let’s look back now on the Season of Love
Love spoke with Pac-12 Network’s Yogi Roth afterwards reflecting on the experience:
“Love had an amazing season, finishing with 1,973 yards and 17 touchdowns despite missing a game with an ankle injury and playing through pain for most of the back half of the schedule. The Stanford workhorse averages 8.32 yards per carry, reaching the 100-yard mark in 11 of his 12 starts. He also scored in 11 of 12 games, finding the end zone multiple times in four games.
But the production from the first time lead back was not just good, it was historic. Love ran for 1,088 yards in the first five games. He joined an elite class of running backs as only the third player in college to reach 1,000 yards in just five games, the first time a Stanford player has done so. He also set the Stanford, single game rushing yards record against Arizona State, going for 301 yards.”
“Stanford just extended its lead, 17-6, on a 57-yard Bryce Love run. On the run, Love set the single-season FBS record for most runs of 50+ yards (11), per Stanford SID Alan George.
Love also extended his FBS-best active streak of 12 games with a rushing touchdown. The 12-game streak also broke the Stanford school record, surpassing Toby Gerhart’s previous-best streak of 11 games.”
David Shaw, Daniel Marx laud Bryce Love's determination through injury
“In the first three games of 2017, Love had already amassed 524 yards and four touchdowns. While the offense around him has looked progressively weaker over the last two weeks, Love has stayed a song center piece a spark of consistency. In the first three games he has rushed for 180, 160 and 184 yards. With longs of 62, 75, and 53 yards in each game. He is a back that can grind out yards, with home run speed.
On Saturday against the UCLA Bruins Love exploded for 263 yards and a touchdown on 30 touches.”
Stanford Football: Bryce Love: Player of the Year
“Whenever Bryce Love touches the ball, there's a a chance he might score, and he carried Stanford to victories over UCLA and Arizona State with two monster performances. Against Utah, he sealed the win with a 68-yard touchdown run. Recently against Oregon, Love was on pace for almost another 300-yard game before leaving with an ankle injury. [. . .]
How big of a difference does Love make? He probably adds a touchdown or two per game over his counterparts. Against a team like Oregon State, it doesn't matter if Love, Scarlett, or Speights get more touches, but against tougher opponents, it makes all the difference in the world. You stop watching for one second, and Love is breaking for the end zone, and suddenly, Stanford takes a slim lead.”
Stanford Football: #HeismanLove: Notre Dame Week
“Love is regularly running behind great blocking, but he sure knows how to cut off his blocks and can do real damage after he does so. His balance, vision, and acceleration in this running game was the first thing Stanford put on film, and they’ve put a great deal more of it out there for everyone to see. You might want to tune in for one of these late-night games and see for yourself.”
2017 Heisman Coverage: Daniel Marx on Bryce Love: 'I'm sure it gives him fire
“Bryce Love averaged 23 yards per carry in the first two offensive series, and one of those carries was a 67 yard touchdown run. He was just completely unstoppable, and his dominance helped establish the passing game early on.
Then, disaster happened. Love went down on his first carry out of half and never returned. He limped off the field on his own and finished with 147 yards on just 17 carries, and if it weren't for his injury, Love undoubtedly would've topped the 200 yard mark.”
EXCLUSIVE: Stanford RB Bryce Love talks to ABC7
“Bryce Love and Stanford just shot up 14-0 as Love put up a 67-yard touchdown run. This was Love’s second touchdown to open a pounding against Oregon for Stanford’s homecoming.
With the run, Love has had nine straight games with a touchdown of at least 50 yards. No Heisman winner in the past 20 years has ever accomplished this feat, per Alan George.
Bryce Love also tied a streak set by Christian McCaffrey, as he went for his ninth consecutive game with at least 100 rushing yards. To make it all the more impressive, he accomplished both of the above two streaks in his only nine starts ever.”
Stanford Football: David Shaw on Bryce Love
“Bryce Love reeled off a 68-yard 4th quarter touchdown run on Saturday in Utah that gave #25 Stanford (4-2) its third win in a row, and helped the Cardinal regain their Top-25 ranking.
Love is the nation’s leading rusher with 1,240 yards on the season, and so you understand just how good he has been, no other player has yet to hit the 1,000 yard mark. Furthermore, he has a touchdown run of 50+ yards in 7 straight games, a feat that has not been accomplished in over twenty years. [. . .]
Love, now the clear frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy, summed up the game perfectly when asked about his team’s hard-fought win.
“We’re really big on grinding it out for however long it takes, and we just need one opportunity to make something happen,” Love said. “Sometimes, especially against a good team like Utah, you’re going to have to get nitty and gritty and really fight.””
“Yet again, Bryce Love was the best player on the football ﬁeld this past Saturday, rushing 25 times for 301 yards and 3 touchdowns in a 34-24 home win over ASU. The Stanford faithful were treated to a historic day on The Farm, one where Love surpassed the incomparable Christian McCaffrey, who held the previous school rushing record of 284 yards against Cal in ’16.
Love scored touchdowns on runs of 61, 59, and 43 yards respectively, leaving the Cardinal fans, and even his own head coach, amazed. “I’ve never seen anything like that, ever,” Shaw said after the game. “That was unbelievable.””
Saquon Barkley & Bryce Love - Best Running backs in Country
“As much as we are awaiting to still see how Love can grow and develop as a star player, we’re doing the same for our offensive line, doing the same for Chryst, and for every other player on the team. I’m sure Love is a nice kid but he’s got to be sick of, already hearing how he’s compared to McCaffrey and we’re only one game in! We don’t even have enough stats to compare the two just yet!
So, before we see anymore articles comparing the two players, keep in mind that great players need time to make their own way. It’s very early in the season and people want someone to fill the “void” that McCaffrey took on. However, as the weeks go on, lets not put too much pressure on one guy from another in such a short amount of time.
And who knows, maybe Love will have a career that surpasses McCaffrey”
“4. Bryce Love: 2015-current - This is not recency bias, Love is a great running back, who has played through really tough quarterbacks. The best quarterback he played with was Hogan, and he was securely fasted to the bench. When he got a chance to start while McCaffrey was out in 2016 he stepped in and looked phenomenal. Now as the starter he set the record for Stanford as the first running back to reach 1,000 yards in just five games. He has also set school bests in yards in a single game (301), yards per carry through a career (8.5) and sixth all-time with 10 100-yard rushing games. He has had no help from his quarterbacks or other skill position spots. He is a top level back and is making a run at the Heisman trophy.”
Stanford Football: #HeismanLove: Time Square
“Prior to this game, the Washington defense never gave up more than 23 points to any team. Bryce Love alone has now scored 21 points. The most recent came on a Stanford drive that took just two Love runs to score the touchdown, as Stanford extended its lead 30-14
Love’s 15th rushing TD ties for the lead among running backs from a Power 5 conference. It’s also the 4th-most in Stanford history.”
“Stanford running back Bryce Love has had one of the most dominant starts to a season in college football history. Despite a lacking end to the season, relative to his incredible numbers in the early going, he’s a Heisman finalist. During the season, he had 237 runs for 1,973 yards (an 8.3 per-carry average and a 164.4 per-game average) and 17 touchdowns.
The bad thing about Love’s season is that it occurred largely out of national view.
Stanford starts a lot of its games late at night on the East Coast. That’s great if you’re on the West Coast or an all-day college football watcher who lives for #Pac12AfterDark, but it’s rough if you need to sleep, like to go out at night, or have to do anything that drags you away while you’re eight beers deep early Sunday morning.”
Stanford Football: #HeismanLove: Heisman Ceremony
“Seriously, though, as fun as Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson, Oklahoma State’s James Washington, etc., may be, Love has been the most ridiculous offensive player in the country thus far.
If he keeps this up, his numbers might be so gaudy that Heisman voters don’t have a choice but to vote for him ... even if they can’t stay up late enough to actually watch him play. Hey, Gordie Lockbaum finished third in the Heisman voting in 1987, and Stanford’s TV deal isn’t any worse than Holy Cross’s ... I think...”
“Add in Bryce Love being so fast that he has DBs even at ten yards past the line of scrimmage, and the spacing for the play blows up in Arizona State’s face before they can even blink. Even at ten yards with Bryce Love is flailing behind at 15 yards; at 20 yards, it’s waving forlornly at him like he’s running for the sunset, destined never to return.
The lessons are a.) run Power, b.) play Arizona State if you run Power well, and c.) Bryce Love can turn a ten yard run into a damn near sixty yard run if you let him. You probably shouldn’t let him, but that’s the whole point of power football done well: Taking every choice from the opponent except “get punched in the teeth” away from them, and seeing how they react.”
“Love was also well-known in the North Carolina track world. In 2013 as a sophomore, he placed second at the 4A State Championship in the 100 meter dash, clocking a 10.68.
That’s top tier speed for a high school athlete. Tossing him the ball deep in the backfield allows him to turn this typical Power G into a track meet. He’s running a straight line from the backfield to the end zone, and he doesn’t have to worry about meshing with the quarterback’s handoff, reading the fullback’s block, or finding the hole. It becomes see ball, catch ball, run ball, go fast.”
“In a season where Stanford doesn’t truly have a quarterback and was banking on Love to replace McCaffrey—as impossible as that was—the junior back has been stellar in carrying the Cardinal. Love has fit Stanford’s ground-and-pound identity to a T; on top of that, he’s built on the way they win games—strong line play—and parlayed that with his speed in order to fuel his long runs. We can still call it the McCaffrey Recipe, but now it’s got a powerful new ingredient.”
“Bryce Love’s touchdown runs this year have covered the following yardage: 10, 75, 51, 53, 69, 61, 43, 59, 68, 5, 67. I don’t think I need to point out which two are the outliers. Those are home runs. Big flies. Dongs. It’s so incredible to look at those numbers consecutively. They account for 40% of his yards gained rushing on the season.
[. . .]
What’s interesting is that Love doesn’t matriculate the ball down the field the way Stanford is used to doing it. What Cardinal fans are used to saying about one or two yard gains early is that they’ll become four to five yard gains later. That’s not the way Love operates, and it’s not the way Stanford has been utilizing him, either.”
Bryce Love's dominating rise to Heisman candidacy | SportsCenter | ESPN
“Love picked up right where Christian McCaffrey left off at Stanford last year, piling up 1,973 yards and 17 touchdowns despite battling an ankle injury throughout the season. The junior was second in the country in rushing yards despite carrying the ball 38 times less than leader Rashaad Penny of San Diego State.
Love captured the award over Penn State's Saquon Barkley and Wisconsin's Jonathan Taylor.”