NW at the Stanford 39 as we start the fourth, and a score here, even a field goal, is a first nail in the coffin. Cats keep it on the ground three times, and defense is starting to get tired after being out there all day what with the offense not doing much of anything. Aziz Shittu injured, and with Harrison Phillips going down earlier, this is a nightmarish start for the Cardinal with injuries exactly where we could least afford them.
Blake Martinez with a touchdown-saving tackle, but not looking good at all in a macro sense as NW gains 25 or so as #44 gets creased badly. For the defense, combination of fatigue and being undersized. Time for a pick-six or scoop and score or something?
Third and goal from the three after two runs up the middle. 12:45 and counting, we're presumably down at least 10 after this drive and with just one timeout, jeez. And a golden opportunity we miss as #13 really should have had the pick, but we drop our second in the end zone. They've cost us six point now, and instead of 7-3, it's 13-3 with time starting to run down.
Northwestern 13, Stanford 3, 12:21 remaining
Hey, at least we have a Andrew Luck DIRECTV neck-beard commercial. Brightest spot of the game so far. Seriously, what is the offensive highlight that they'll show on the local TV shows or on a GoStanford video cap? This is some Harris-era offense right now, on a team that was a darkhorse national title contender and returned nearly all of its offensive starters. Maybe the new quarterbacks in the next few years are the answer…
Might as well go hurry up here, not like the traditional offense is doing much. 140 yards in 46 minutes. On a point-per-quarter pace. Wonder if anyone is reading this right now, you are a sadist and props to you if so, unless this turns around in a hurry somehow.
Hurry up, gains 13 on a sideline route. Or 10 percent of our offensive output to that point. And then Michael Rector drops a bomb at the NW 18. Ouch. Why not always run this hurry-up offense because it sure works, season after season, game after game, better than the base package? 13 yards, then should have had a touchdown, then pick up nine, now gain the first down on a give to McCaffrey. Let's make this the base offense.
Dalton Shultz with a drop on a ball slightly behind him, arguably tipped. From a playcalling standpoint though, our best sequence of the day. And then Hogan is picked off but a HUGE flag on Northwestern pick and ugly Hogan overthrow. Maybe Hogan is just limited and they feel this ugly dink and dunk offense is our best shot, I hear that too, but I'd rather go down swinging and hope for a big play or two than force a struggling guy to be accurate all the way up the field.
9:13 and counting now, third and five from the NW 35, and this is the type of game that loses people their jobs. Very nearly a pick-six as NW drops it. Hogan looks awful, worse than anything last year. Fourth and five, and hey, Michael Rector's open and moves the chains. Maybe, maybe, maybe, we somehow survive here despite looking horrible and being clearly outplayed.
Hogan too high yet again and that's hard to do for Greg Taboada, who was open heading down the seam. Should be 13-10, but this is the worst drive of Hogan's career to be blunt. Next throw, Hogan out of bounds, so it's incomplete even though Rector catches. Six yards underneath on third and ten, which is obviously not where you should be throwing the ball on third and ten, but given our results throwing deep, it's kind of whatever.
Ukropina keeps the game alive, true from 40, seemingly the one guy who's executed flawlessly today. Hey, we expected one team to clearly dominate the other today, and if you just looked at the stats, stripped of team names, you'd have to be feeling pretty good as a Stanford fan. Of course, you'd be wrong.
They say there are four levels of performance, winning big, winning small, losing small and losing big. We expected No. 1, are at No. 3 right now and are darn lucky it's not No. 4 (17-3 after a should-have-been pick-six).
Not only have we not scored a touchdown, but have we come exceptionally close? Not like that USC game last year where we couldn't hardly crack the end zone but at least we were mighty close time and again. Here, what's the closest, that bad overthrown to Taboada in the seam?
Again though, I'm writing emotionally here, just find a darn way and winning forgives everything. I have the feeling after a first-down stuff that the D is energized and might have a three-and-out up its sleeve.
Second down goes nowhere up the middle so third and eight. NW has converted more than its share of third downs today though: credit to them,but the D will need to clean that up too. And right on cue, the fade wheel route drops perfectly in, not a darn thing Ronnie Harris right in his shadow can do. I mean, sheesh, gotta let them have that, 25 yard fade on the darn nose down the sideline released right before he gets hit.
We're getting outrushed 217-87 is a bigger problem than what was just the best offensive play of the day. Wow, NW with another first down running, we can't get off blocks and look like a scout team D per ESPN. And have only given up 13, I have full confidence the D is going to be just fine with some time and seasoning here. Undersized, so merely good not great this year, but long-term trajectory is okay.
Meanwhile though NW is good from 49 yards just barely on the field goal, but counts the same. Big tailwind helped their cause, but that is crushing for our hopes.
Northwestern 16, Stanford 6
Having all three timeouts would sure help the cause now, wouldn't it? This is the worst we've looked offensively since Jim Harbaugh came here, I'd think?
Down ten, dinking and dunk and moving the ball forward, but not quickly enough. Gotta go deep even though it's been a disaster when we've tried. Instead Hogan sacked and we burn our final timeout. In what area haven't we been dominated, ESPN asks. Fair.
Why are we burning our timeouts on this drive, apparently we had two, and just used them both. Guess we are going for the onside kick strategy here, which isn't optimal either. Won't matter unless we convert on fourth and three here though…
Don't envy the press release writer guy who has to recap this one, sheesh. Hooper to the 34 and hey, we stay alive and are at least dragging this out into a long, painful death. Hogan to Cajuste for another first down, okay, okay. Then Cajuste draws a targeting call, half the distance. Where was he in the first half?
20 seconds to pick up five yards and NW smart to keep using these timeouts right before we snap to make us burn our best plays. Hogan 7-of-7 but for 52 yards on this drive, so total dinking and dunking. Second straight bad snap, Hogan does well to throw it away. Instead Hogan takes way too long to get there, and that's where a lack of arm strength will kill you. Late throw that wobbled after a long windup, and instead of a touchdown, it's a pick-six.
Well what an ugly way to start the season and it wasn't especially close.
Northwestern 16, Stanford 6, and it's time for some serious soul-searching for the Cardinal. All I say is thank goodness our 2016 recruiting class is largely signed, as this certainly doesn't suggest that this year is going to help the effort, or that this year is going to be the one to remember.
Northwestern 16, Stanford 6, Final
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