Anyone else feeling like it's less football and more commercials so far this year? They must have tinkered with the rules again over the offseason. Hogan misses a wide-open Rollins Stallworth on a roll-out throw behind Stallworth. Second-down draw not there as again Kyle Murphy struggles with his man getting across him too easily. Third and seven, and yes, as the commentators point out, will Stanford actually attack downfield? It's a checkdown instead to Remound Wright for just enough to move the chains, good enough. Still haven't attempted a pass more than ten yards downfield though.
Now we're attacking up the middle and it's three or four for Christian McCaffrey. Good adjustment after the getting him in space ploy wasn't looking, with the Wildcat DBs screaming upfield. Second and seven and a blind-side sack drops Hogan. Delayed safety blitz, and then another give up and punt third down draw. Not a lot of faith whatsoever in the wide receivers. Red flag if the staff knows something we don't and the announcers are hammering us for it. 30-yard punt for a touchback, and good field position wasted with points left on the board.
So far, it looks like neither the offensive nor defensive line is right where we want to be, and the receiving group underwhelms. Those were some of our biggest concerns heading into this season, so not to be a Debbie Downer, but we're stuck on 3-3 early and the Cardinal were double-digit favorites heading in. Maybe we can put in our future contracts with East Coast teams that we request non-9 a.m. starts.
Harrison Phillips exiting early with a leg injury, and as the announcers point out, yes, that's one area we don't have a ton of depth. Although Aziz Shittu made his presence felt there, grabbing the Wildcat runner by the collar and throwing him to the ground. DB shoved off the line on third and short, and so it's another curl completion to move the chains. Cats to midfield and matching Stanford blow for blow halfway through the second now. Dallas Lloyd tackles a yard short, but the Northwestern receiver dives for the sticks before falling out of bounds, first down. QB's 5-of-11 for 33 yards, but despite the three yards per pass, NW's marching here in bite-sized chunks.
Nothing bite-sized about that. 42-yard option keeper for the game's first touchdown, reminds of Andrew Luck's similar play against Washington. The quarterback just outruns Jordan Perez and Ronnie Harris to turn 15 yards into 42, and on the replay, pre-snap motion leaves Perez out of motion and opens the door for the Cats.
Northwestern 10, Stanford 3
Uh oh. Can we counterpunch on a long scoring drive before the half? If not, it's NU's ball to start the second and this is getting hairy all of a sudden. On the replay, again an underneath pass to Austin Hooper for five or six. Nothing going with the receivers. McCaffrey fumbles as he's hit by two guys simultaneously after picking up a first down, and Cats recover in Stanford territory. Time for a big stop by the D.
Looks good early as a QB throwback is blown up by Ronnie Harris, but the Cats will get another crack at it as No. 17 jumps offsides. David Shaw looks pained, but the Cardinal don't crack on third and 12 or third and seven.
Cats will go for it from the Cardinal 34, and maybe Shaw's just shocked it's not an automatic punt for the Cats, because again a curl is open for an apparent Northwestern first down. It's super-close either way, so confirm the call and move the chains, makes sense, but a big blow for the Cardinal. NW now from the Stanford 26 and that offsides is hurting us now in a major way.
NW end-around blown up and, yes, ESPN, there have been some questionable play calls out here today. Neither team threatening vertically at all, still, early, looks like watching 1940's football at the moment.
Third down, the Wildcats to their credit do actually attempt a pass more than 10 yards downfield, but can't quite hang on and it's time for a 48-yard field goal try, no good. NW leaving some points on the board here too.
Trivia Q is the two other coaches to lead his team to a BCS bowl in first three seasons as a head coach? Mark Helfrich hasn't quite been there three years, right?
Stanford going hurry up, and maybe that's what the O needs to jumpstart it alive. Last four drives have gained a total of 18 yards.
Tough call goes against Francis Owusu, with a third down curl ruled incomplete on Stanford's first throw down the field. Not like NW should be able to do much in their two-minute drill though if they don't throw down the field. Hey, maybe we can get the ball back and steal a few points back. But, no, don't use a timeout before third and one, and NW first down makes all that moot.
Chip Kelly and Larry Coker. Alright then. We don't use a timeout before third and four at their 36, disappointing, but it's halftime, 10-3 Cats. 1 hour, 17 minute half, so yes, that was fast with neither team throwing downfield.
Northwestern 10, Stanford 3, Halftime
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