At this point, Christian McCaffrey is the rare college athlete who needs no introduction to a general audience. As far as his chances of winning the Heisman Trophy go, that’s a blessing and a curse. If you’ve paid any attention at all to Stanford or Pac-12 football over the past year, you know that McCaffrey is enormously blessed, both with pure, natural-born talent and with an offense that (paleolithic reputation notwithstanding) has exploited his skills to maximum effect.
McCaffrey’s a bona fide star.
On the other hand, if you’re the kind of fan who’s less inclined to keep close tabs on West Coast games — evidence suggests that’s a lot of you — and if your exposure to McCaffrey is largely second-hand, well, why tune in now? Short of defying gravity in the first known instance of non-assisted human flight, there’s not much McCaffrey can do on a football field to win over new converts that he hasn’t already done.
Judging from last weekend’s TV ratings, maybe upending the laws of science is what it’s going to take.
On a busy night for college football, McCaffrey’s electric performance in Stanford’s 27-10 win over USC was seen by fewer than 2.9 million people — not bad for, say, a prestige cable drama in its first season. For an above-the-fold college football game on ABC, not so much. That number was dwarfed in its own time slot by the audiences who watched Ohio State crush Oklahoma (5.8 million) and Notre Dame go down in flames against Michigan State (4.99 million).
Earlier in the day, more three times as many people tuned in for Alabama’s wild, come-from-behind win over Ole Miss (8.2 million), and more than twice as many saw Lamar Jackson’s coming out party against Florida State (6.2 million). Coincidentally, who’s your undisputed Heisman frontrunner in this week’s straw polls? I’ll give you a hint. It’s not Christian McCaffrey.