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Beyond the Empire: Northwestern - Stanford

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It's time for the NERD BOWL, with Stanford coming to Evanston

Hope springs eternal in Evanston after two disappointing 5-7 seasons. Hopefully, the team has healed from all the injuries and put the distraction from the union debate behind it. However, our Wildcats won't have an easy start to the season as they host the #21 Stanford Cardinal this Saturday at 11AM CST on ESPN.

Northwestern offense vs Stanford defense

Thorson and running back Justin Jackson will lead the Northwestern offense against the #21 Stanford Cardinal, in a very stiff test. Thorson tore up the DuPage Valley Conference and has only played against his teammates for the past year. Welcome to the big leagues, kid!

Northwestern now has a new quarterback, redshirt freshman Clayton Thorson! Thorson beat out sophomore Matt Alviti and true senior Zack Oliver for the job. Northwestern (should) only be using 1 quarterback this season. I personally hated the 2 QB platoon system since it probably gave opposing defenses a good key on what play is coming. Thomson is joined by returning stud RB Justin Jackson, and a new-look offensive line with 3 starters. This *might* not go well against a team that's traditionally built to run the ball and stop the run. However, Northwestern might have a chance since Stanford had to replace the entire defensive line and secondary from last year. Stanford's players to watch include DT's Solomon Thomas and Harrison Philips and tackling machine Blake Martinez. The success of Northwestern linemen Eric Olson and Geoff Mogus blocking against Peter Kalambayi and Kevin Anderson will be key if Jackson is to get any substantial yardage. Then JJ has to get past Martinez.

Stanford offense vs Northwestern defense

QB Kevin Hogan will lead the Stanford attack against Northwestern, albeit without lineman Andrus Peat blocking for him. Hogan's 6'4, and might miss the presence of wide receivers Devon Cajuste and Michael Rector due to ankle injuries/suspensions. According to InsideNU, here's what Hogan thinks of the Northwestern secondary:
Northwestern has a veteran secodary led by Matt Harris, Traveon Henry, Nick VanHoose and Godwin Igwebuike. Anthony Walker will be the star linebacker, and he should match up well against Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey. The matchup to truly watch will be Stanford's OL against Northwestern's DL. I fear the Cardinal line will push Northwestern's line around, and McCaffrey will get big yards.

Series Info

Historically Northwestern is 1-3-2 against the Cardinal with the last game being a 41-41 tie in Evanston on Sept 10th, 1994.

Other Thoughts

I'll probably get bricks or broken beer bottles thrown at me for this, but I hope Stanford brings their wacky and irreverent Band to Evanston. I also believe that most of Jim Harbaugh's recruits have graduated, and it will be interesting to see how David Shaw's recruits do going forward.

Retro Program Cover Analysis

According to Wikipedia, Stanford used to be known as the Indians. This art-deco style program tastefully displays Native Americans, but as you'll see later this year, Northwestern had no problem mocking Chief Illiniwek

NU Stanford