SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Christian McCaffrey has broken the record of a player he grew up idolizing.
The Stanford running back surpassed Barry Sanders' NCAA single-season record for all-purpose yardage in the second quarter of Saturday night's Pac-12 championship game, a 41-22 win over USC.
McCaffrey eclipsed the record of 3,250 yards on a 2-yard plunge, concluding a pursuit that has included 11 games of more than 200 all-purpose yards this season and five of more than 300. McCaffrey dazzled in Saturday's conference title win with 461 all-purpose yards -- 207 rushing, 105 receiving, 120 kick return and 29 punt return -- and three touchdowns. McCaffrey scored in three different ways: rushing, receiving and passing, on an 11-yard, second-quarter toss to quarterback Kevin Hogan.
The passing yards do not count in the all-purpose tally.
Stanford coach David Shaw put a flattering label on his running back after the game.
"To my left here is the best player in the nation," Shaw said. "I don't know if that's even a question. There's nobody in the nation doing what he's been doing. It's not even a debate."
The accomplishment also builds an interesting bridge to McCaffrey's past: According to his mother, his childhood bedroom was filled with posters of Sanders.
"Whenever a new Barry Sanders highlight video came out, he would run to watch it," Lisa McCaffrey said.
"That's a guy I had posters on my wall of growing up," Christian McCaffrey said postgame. "Even to be mentioned in the same category is definitely an honor."
McCaffrey, a son of three-time Super Bowl champion receiver Ed McCaffrey, tied the mark on a 31-yard punt return prior to his short record-breaking run. He'll now have a chance to pad the number, which belonged to Sanders for 27 years, in the postseason.
It should be noted that McCaffrey surpassed 3,250 all-purpose yards in his 13th game of the season, while Sanders' Oklahoma State team played only 11 games in that 1988 campaign.
Still, McCaffrey owns a commanding national lead in the all-purpose yardage category this year. He entered the Pac-12 title game averaging 252.9 yards per game, with second-place Tyler Ervin of San Jose State far behind at 200.8.
McCaffrey is expected to be a finalist for the 2015 Heisman Trophy, which will be presented Dec. 12 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.