The Stanford Cardinals looks to improve

The Stanford Cardinals looks to improve from a 8 & 3 record last season. Winner of its last 3 games to end the 2014 campaign, including a 42-21 rout of Maryland in the Foster Farms Bowl, Stanford will open its season on the road for the first time since 2009 (a 39-13 win at Washington State on Sept. 5).
Preview: Stanford at Northwestern

When: 12:00 PM ET, Saturday, September 5, 2015
Where: Ryan Field, Evanston, Illinois

Current Line: Stanford -11 @ LIVE LINES

The offense will be spearheaded by helmsman Kevin Hogan. He is 24-8 as a starting quarterback and 11-6 against AP top-25 teams. Hogan’s 24 wins are the second-most by any active college player (Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, who will be play wide receiver in 2015, has 26 career wins). Hogan’s .765 winning pct. is third-best among returning quarterbacks, and his 76.3 completion pct. in the final three games of the 2014 season ranked No. 1 among all Power-5 quarterbacks.

Stanford has rushed for at least 100 yards in 35 of its last 37 games. The only two games without at least 100 yards rushing during that stretch were 2014 losses at No. 9 Notre Dame (47) and No. 17 Arizona State (76). Stanford has recorded at least one rushing touchdown 34 times in its past 35 games (only game without a rushing touchdown during that stretch was 2014 vs. Utah). Stanford’s last victory without accounting for a rushing touchdown was against Notre Dame on Nov. 26, 2011.

Stanford has held opponents to 20 or fewer points in 31 of its past 41 games. Dating to 2010, the Cardinal has held 45 of its past 60 opponents to 20 or fewer points. Stanford has held opponents below their season averages in total yards, passing yards and rushing yards in each game over the last three campaigns.

Northwestern said goodbye to five starters on the offensive side of the ball and three more on defense

after the 2014 season. Of the eight departed starters, six received an opportunity to continue playing with

NFL teams, including safety Ibraheim Campbell and quarterback Trevor Siemian, who were drafted by

the Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos, respectively, in March.

On Aug. 27, Fitzgerald announced that redshirt freshman Clayton Thorson would start today. This means the Wildcats must rely on their ground game and defense to stay close in this game.

Sophomore running back Justin Jackson was named to a pair of prestigious watch lists this summer. The

second-year player was named a player to watch for the Maxwell Award, which is bestowed upon the nation’s top player, and the Doak Walker Award, which goes to the top running back in the country. Defensive end Dean lowry was named to the Lott IMPACT Award watch list.

The Bottom Line: The Stanford Cardinals are a much more polished team than the Northwestern Wildcats and should feature their run game to win.

 Cardinal are 14-6 ATS in their last 20 non-conference games.

 Cardinal are 16-7 ATS in their last 23 games in September.

Selection: Stanford -11.5