Northwestern put together a solid 2018 season, going 9-5 overall and 8-1 in the Big Ten, only losing to Michigan at home. The team averaged 24.2 points per game while they game up 23.2. Six of their fourteen games last year were decided by seven points or less.
The Wildcats will start this season on the road where they took four out of their five losses last season. If they want to put together another impressive season where they overcome some expectations, this game gives them an opportunity to do just that.
The big story for the Wildcats is their quarterback situation, where they must choose between their veteran TJ Green, and their Clemson transfer Hunter Johnson.
Johnson was once listed at the top duel-threat quarterback prospect coming out of high school; he was with Clemson for a year until they were able to recruit Heisman hopeful, Trevor Lawrence. If Johnson can reach his full potential in the Northwestern offense, their expectations as a team for this season will be very high. It seems like Johnson will get the start while Green will still get some playing time.
Stanford Cardinal #25
Stanford comes into this season ranked 25th after finishing last year 9-4. They started last year 4-0 until dropping a big game on the road to Notre Dame then Utah the following week.
They had a very similar season to Northwestern last year in terms of their record. Northwestern finished their season winning four of their last five games including their bowl game while Stanford won their last four games including their bowl game as well.
Returning at quarterback for the Cardinal is K.J. Costello who will look to continue growing after a solid junior season. Last year he totaled 3,540 yards, 29 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. Stanford lost most of their top receivers from last year. In fact, the only returning player that was in the top five in receptions is their tight end, Colby Parkinson, who had 29 catches, 485 yards and seven of Costello’s 29 touchdowns.
With big names like Christian McCaffery and Toby Gerhart coming out of Stanford at the running back position, they are used to being able to control tempo with the ground game and put teams away late. With the departure of Bryce Love, the team will have to stay healthy at the running back position and regain that dominance.
What to expect
While Stanford is the ranked team in this match-up, I would expect a close game in this one. If Northwestern can use their quarterbacks to their full ability, they have a real chance to take over this game early.
However, we have not got a chance to see what the Wildcats’ new QB is capable of. Given that Stanford is at home in this one, I will take them to win this one.