First-Quarter Blog: Stanford 3, Wildcats 3

Stanford's in all white, everyone's undefeated, there's pretty shots of Lake Michigan, and the live blog's back -- let's get it! Season starts with no shortage of enthusiasm, and through one, Stanford and Northwestern are knotted at 3-3.

Stanford's in all white, everyone's undefeated, there's pretty shots of Lake Michigan, and the live blog's back -- let's get it! Stanford receives and first play of the season is a muffed snap. No bother, as it's Christian McCaffrey on a toss sweep right converting the first third down of the season. Then Casey Tucker gets beat badly on an inside move. Stanford's going semi-hurry up in the offense and hitting short route after short route. Love it. Tight end, and then McCaffrey out of the backfield for a first down, and Kevin Hogan has all day in the passing game. Josh Garnett coming across center in a power look, plowing out defenders as McCaffrey and the Cardinal march forward. Eight-play, 62-yard drive as Daniel Marx gets a nice cut block and Remound Wright runs on first down – for another first down.

Ooh, nice call to Francis Owusu on an end-around after the fake handoff inside (though to the short side of the field), but Kyle Murphy's beat outside by a DT and it's only two. Owusu had green in front of him but couldn't make the last guy miss. It'll cost Stanford four points: McCaffrey has to play defense on third and goal as Northwestern has the wheel route double-covered, but Conrad Ukropina is good from 29 and we're already six minutes in.

Stanford 3, Northwestern 0

Looks like more of the same early for the Stanford defense. I see Solomon Thomas getting his first career start, and I see Kevin Anderson coming from the blind side on third down to hit Northwestern's rookie quarterback before the ball gets out. Three and out for the Wildcats, and now it'll be on the offense to threaten early to put this game out of reach.

Ugh, Northwestern all in the backfield on a first down draw to McCaffrey, though a personal foul facemasking gives the Cardinal 15. Next snap, no matter, Northwestern all in the backfield to blow up another perimeter run. We must think we can stretch them horizontally, there's been a ton of that so far, but McCaffrey blown up on a second down screen, and that's three in a row that have gone nowhere. Time to adjust the approach. With no apparent faith in vertical passing game from either coaching staff (hence Northwestern blowing up all the horizontal stuff), it's a draw on third and 14, and not a great look for the offense as ESPN mentions us getting too cute at the end of the first drive and too conservative on that draw. New year, same questions with the offensive playcalling.

Off-line punt out of bounds, think we may have gained five yards on a favorable spot though…

Northwestern bounces outside as 48 gets boxed in and it's 15 yards for the Cats on third and short. But Harrison Phillips gets great push to tip a second down pass. Then a third down curl underneath Terrence Alexander is open to move the chains, and Northwestern's driving into Stanford territory.

Wow, that's been a quick first quarter that's all but over, and it's another long third down run for 19 to the Cardinal 20. Again the Cats bouncing to the left of its line on third and short to great success. Kodi Whitfield drops a catchable ball behind him and that'll cost the Cardinal three, as Northwestern's good from 31. We're tied as the first winds down.

Stanford 3, Northwestern 3, 52 seconds remaining, first quarter

I think the suspension of Michael Rector is costing these guys as Stanford hasn't looked deep or threatened to stretch it deep once all day. I also suspect, no offense to Rollins Stallworth, that Devon Cajuste isn't 100% either.

Second down again Stanford tries to stretch horizontally and again three Wildcats in the backfield as soon as McCaffrey gets the rock. He didn't have a shot and that's just setting plays on fire for now. I know McCaffrey's a speed guy, but why not try to run right at them, we have to have a size advantage across the line?

Stanford 3, Northwestern 3, End First Quarter

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