Stanford vs. Northwestern Prediction, In-Depth Game Preview

    The Stanford vs. Northwestern prediction is in for the opening game between the Cardinal and Wildcats. Find out who's picked to win in Evanston.

    September 2, 2015

    Two of the premier academic schools in the country put conference bragging rights on the line when the Northwestern Wildcats welcome the Stanford Cardinal to Evanston to open the season. Will the Wildcats bring home a big “W” for the Big Ten, or will the Cardinal prove to much to handle? Below is the Stanford vs. Northwestern prediction and full game preview. 

    Stanford vs. Northwestern Prediction & Preview

    Why You Need To Care

    Following disappointing 2014 seasons, Stanford and Northwestern are hungry for a fast start to 2015.

    The Cardinal and the Wildcats missed their marks a year ago, placing a greater sense of urgency on the month of September. Stanford failed to win 10 games for the first time since 2009, raising fears that the glory days of Pac-12 contention might be over for now. But this is also the team that finished 2014 on a tear, so the Cardinal is hoping to build a bridge to its three-game winning streak.

    Northwestern is coming off back-to-back losing seasons, a first during the Pat Fitzgerald era. And for a program with a suspect football history, it’s imperative to turn things around before the situation worsens and the fan base further thins. Fitz wants to get the edge back in Evanston, and an upset of visiting Stanford could point his squad in the right direction.

    Why Stanford Will Win

    The names of the Cardinal defenders change, but the mindset and the results largely stay the same. Just because Stanford will be using a bunch of new starters doesn’t mean this D is about to get soft. With linebackers Blake Martinez and Kevin Anderson setting the tone, the Cardinal will continue to press the action with their size, strength and smarts. And that’s going to be a problem for a Northwestern offense that has RB Justin Jackson and a bunch of uncertainty, including at quarterback.

    Why Northwestern Will Win

    Fitz is a defensive guy who could be coaching his best defensive talent as a Wildcat. Northwestern is not much different than Stanford on D, forcing opponents to every point, especially when its back is against the end zone. Plus, the team has All-Big Ten candidates at each level, DE Dean Lowry, LB Anthony Walker and CB Nick VanHoose. Stanford is inconsistent on offense, and lacks the workhorse that used to headline its offense.

    Player Who Matters

    Which Kevin Hogan shows up, the quarterback who up-and-down through the first 10 games or the one who spearheaded three straight season-ending routs? It’s a critical year for the inconsistent Hogan, who’s going to get more help from versatile weapon Christian McCaffrey and well-sized pass-catchers Devon Cajuste and Austin Hooper. Additionally, big-play Michael Rector had his suspension lifted, giving the offense someone who can take the top off defenses.

    What’s Going To Happen?

    Both teams have the brains. Stanford, though, possesses the brawn as well. The Cardinal once again harbors a grown-up O-line that can bully opposing lines off the ball. In a low-scoring defensive struggle, Stanford will wear down the Wildcats behind OT Kyle Murphy and OG Joshua Garnett, paving the way for Hogan and McCaffrey to notch decisive scores.

    Stanford vs. Northwestern Score Prediction

    Without further ado, the Stanford vs. Northwestern prediction is …

    Stanford 34, Northwestern 24

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