Game time: 9 a.m. ET
Radio: KNBR 1050am
Online streaming: Watch ESPN
SB Nation Coverage
"Stanford vs. Themselves
There are a lot of factors that make this game pretty scary for Stanford. Not Toby Gerhart bull-rushing you in the open field scary, but still.
First, that dreaded 9 A.M. Pacific Time kickoff after a long, long plane flight. They'll be sleep-walking for the first quarter at least, and it'll probably be a pretty close game in the early going.
Second, Stanford has had problems with looking past weaker teams, like Washington in 2012. Maybe you could chalk that one up to Josh Nunes, quarterback extraordinaire, but still. That trip to the Coliseum is probably in the back of a lot of players' minds — not necessarily their trip to Evanston. It is the first game of the season, so maybe the trap game factor isn't that high — around a 6 out of 10."
"Clayton Thorson looks the part of a big-time starting quarterback. He also sounds like one. He's already well-versed in cliche's about his leadership qualities, his role as a freshman starter and his responsibility to his teammates.
But until he takes his first snap Saturday, it remains to be seen if he plays like one.
Every other facet of Northwestern's roster is fairly predictable."
"What worries you most about the Stanford matchup? Is there anyone in particular or is it a matchup?
Both Stanford's defensive line and Northwestern's offensive line are somewhat inexperienced, but Stanford is always able to replace talent with talent. Northwestern's offensive line hasn't played a single game together and has to replace three guys. I worry about Stanford's front seven against Northwestern's line. Thorson needs time to throw, especially early in the game, and Jackson needs lanes to run through or else it could be a very long day for the Wildcats."
": Northwestern will win Saturday because they'll be able to catch Stanford off guard. Our Henry Bushnell covered this idea in his article on Monday, and there's some credence to this possibility. By going with an unknown commodity, Northwestern doesn't know what they'll get from their offense on Saturday, but neither does Stanford. It's hard to gameplan for a quarterback who's never played a collegiate snap."
"Christian McCaffrey will build on late 2014 season success
McCaffrey is one of more fortunate backs in NCAA with a stout offensive line that only had to replace All-American Tackle Andrus Peat.
McCaffrey will be looking to take his skills to the next level, getting The Cardinal back on track, honing at least a 1,000-yard rushing season.
His late success last season shows that he has what it takes and when paired up against Northwestern's mediocre run defense (47th S&P according to Football Outsiders), things are looking positive.
Expect at least 100 yards and two touchdowns from McCaffrey."
"If Northwestern can win, it would be the first step in reversing, or at least halting a clear trend on the recruiting trail: Northwestern hasn't been able to compete with Stanford."
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