After Northwestern football kicked off its season with a 16-6 upset over No. 21 Stanford at home in Evanston, the dean of the Wildcats football program led the dancing. There was plenty of talk about how improved Hogan was in the offseason, but it was not there today after completing 20 of his 35 passes for 155 yards and an interception in the end zone in the final minute, trailing 16-6. He had up-and-down passing game (12 of 24, 105 yards) but didn’t turn the ball over.
Fitzgerald said he thought the staff brought Thorson into the game with the right kind of plan to allow him to be successful.
Kelly, the nephew of NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, completed his first touchdown pass to Markell Pack, covering 56 yards. Northwestern’s pass rush gave Stanford fits, and quarterback Kevin Hogan and his receivers struggled to consistently get on the same page. Me personally, I think I can always do a lot better.
The Stanford defense, with nine new starters, held its own for the most part, but seemed to wear down. Favored by 12 points and facing an opponent not know for stout defense, Stanford failed to score an offensive touchdown, rushed for a paltry 85 yards and repeatedly misfired on the basics.
Although the Bulldogs weren’t flawless and mistakes were made, they simply had too much offensive firepower and used it to roll over the Warhawks. It all added up to one miserable loss to Northwestern and a big bucket of cold water on the idea that a strong finish last season would fuel a better start for the Cardinal this year.
Facing a key third down with less than six minutes to play and a narrow seven-point lead, Northwestern gave the ball to its redshirt freshman quarterback.
One team was able to get off the field on defense, the other one wasn’t.
Leading by a touchdown to start the fourth, Northwestern extended its lead to 13-3 on a 19-yard field goal by Mitchell, who also hit from 49 and 31 yards and missed from 48 in the first half. His 13 touches in the first half matched his high for any game a year ago. It looked like we controlled the line of scrimmage on every single play defensive-line wise. The defense played a stellar game, giving up only two field goals and kept the Cardinal out of the endzone.
“This game for sure needed to be won up front, and that’s what I saw from the boundary”, Fitzgerald said. Stanford’s lack of a bell-cow like Toby Gerhart, Stepfan Taylor or Gaffney was glaring, as it was past year.
The Wildcats host Eastern Illinois next week at Ryan Field.