Northwestern vs. Stanford fearless prediction and game preview.
Northwestern vs. Stanford Broadcast
Date: Saturday, August 31
Game Time: 4:00 ET
Venue: Stanford Stadium, Palo Alto, CA
Northwestern (0-0) vs. Stanford (0-0) Game Preview
The last time these two opened up the season, Northwestern pulled off a shocker in 2015 over Christian McCaffrey and a Stanford team that went on to win the Rose Bowl. The loss – as it turned out – likely cost the Cardinal a spot in the College Football Playoff.
This time around, it’s a strong battle between two teams looking to be a part of the Rose Bowl chase.
The Cardinal need to use this as a warm-up with road games at USC and UCF to follow, and with Oregon and Washington also a part of the first half of the season.
The Wildcats get UNLV in Evanston the week after, and then the Big Ten season drops like a hammer with Michigan State, at Wisconsin, at Nebraska, Ohio State and Iowa to follow.
Why Northwestern Will Win
Is the Stanford secondary any better? The cornerback situation is terrific, but the safeties are a wee bit questionable – at least in terms of depth – on a pass defense that allowed 264 yards per game.
The Northwestern offense wasn’t anything special – the passing game was way too ineffective for long periods of time – but the skill positions are as solid as any the program has had under Pat Fitzgerald.
The receiving corps is good enough to keep the pressure on the Cardinal secondary, and Clemson transfer Hunter Johnson is an elite talent at quarterback who should be able to handle the pressure of the big road game. However …
Why Stanford Will Win
Will Johnson get any time to work?
The Northwestern offensive line gave up way, way too many sacks, getting former quarterback Clayton Thorson beaten up. After finishing last in the Big Ten in sacks allowed, the Wildcat front five has some work to do with three starters needing to be replaced.
On the other side, it’ll be about getting pressure on Stanford QB KJ Costello. The Wildcats couldn’t come up with enough sacks last season, and even with a ton of experience returning, it’ll be tough to shake up the Cardinal passing game.
Northwestern has to take control of the game early on and keep the game relatively low scoring to win this. It went 2-6 over the last two seasons when allowing 28 points or more. Stanford scored 28 or more 14 times in the last two years.
What’s Going To Happen
Of course Northwestern will put up a major fight. It’s Northwestern.
Stanford might have a whole slew of concerns and holes to fill, but it’ll get the passing game going right away at home to keep the chains moving.
Most importantly, Northwestern needs to come up with a few takeaways to pull this off, and Stanford won’t give up the ball enough.
Northwestern vs. Stanford Prediction, Line
Stanford 27, Northwestern 21
Line: Stanford -6.5, o/u: 49
ATS Confidence out of 5: 2
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