Posts Tagged ‘Northwestern University’

Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 1-0 Stanford

September 3, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
Sept. 3, 2019

I watched the season opener at Tobacco Road with my local Stanford sports buddy. The joint was hopping — a bunch of interesting college football games started at 3:30, about half an hour before the Cardinal kicked off against Northwestern, and the restaurant was doing a booming pregame business with Durham Bulls fans dining before a 6:30 first pitch on the final weekend of regular season play in the International League.

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Stanford football offers mixed indications in 17-7 season-opening win

September 2, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
Sept. 2, 2019

Stanford opened the 2019 college football season with a 17-7 victory over Northwestern that was not nearly as comfortable as the final score might suggest.

The Wildcats, who won the Big 10 West and beat Utah in a bowl game to finish 2018 with a 9-5 record, had the ball with the potential to tie or take the lead with 30 seconds to play when the Cardinal defense asserted its will. Redshirt senior outside linebacker Casey Toohill chased down quarterback Hunter Johnson and stripped the ball from behind. The pigskin bounded into the end zone and squirted out of the arms of a few players before being recovered by senior outside linebacker Jordan Fox for the game-sealing touchdown.

Stanford may ultimately consider this contest with a dismal air, despite being 1-0 on the young season. Quarterback K.J. Costello retired to the locker room near the end of the first half after junior defensive end Earnest Brown IV knocked off the Cardinal senior’s helmet as he was sliding to the turf at the end of an otherwise meaningless four-yard scramble. And late in the third quarter, junior tackle Walker Little left the field after apparently twisting one of his legs. If either player loses significant time in 2019, then the squad’s prospects will dim considerably.

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Northwestern leaves flat Cardinal in purple daze after 16-6 season-opening defeat

September 7, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
Sept. 7, 2015

Contrary to what the record books would have you believe, the Stanford Cardinal didn’t field a single football team in 2014.

On paper, last year’s club had an 8-5 record. But those victories and losses were really the product of two teams. There was the vigorous, buoyant Dr. Jekyll that ran up no fewer than 31 points apiece in seven games over Davis, Army, Washington State, Oregon State, Cal, UCLA and Maryland — all victories. And then there was the sickly, anemic Mr. Hyde that mustered no more than 17 points per outing in five games against USC, Notre Dame, Arizona State, Oregon and Utah — all losses. (The Cardinal also squeaked out a 20-13 road win against Washington in a game that the Huskies arguably squandered by attempting a questionable fake punt near midfield.)

2014’s brightest moments were unquestionably the resounding Big Game win, the Cardinal’s fifth straight against its closest rival; the surprising thumping of UCLA, a top-10 team, at the Rose Bowl; and the 45-21 domination of Maryland in the Foster Farms Bowl. The year’s worst moments were… Well, it’s hard to choose whether rock bottom was the 13-10 home loss to USC, the 17-14 loss to the Fighting Irish, or weak road efforts against Arizona State and Oregon. For my money, though, the year’s worst outing was a 20-17 home (!) loss in double overtime (!!) to Utah (!!!).

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Postscript: Two meetings, three vignettes

March 13, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
March 13, 2014

On Sunday, I posted about two encounters I had at Stanford football practices. Today, I offer three codas to those two meetings.

Vignette the First: Stanford hosted Northwestern in 1992, beating the Wildcats of Evanston, Ill., by a 35-24 score. The Cardinal finished that season with a 10-3 record, including a dominating 24-3 victory over Penn State. (This was the first and last time that Joe Paterno, the now-disgraced dean of East Coast football, coached against Bill Walsh, the still-revered figure credited with popularizing what some call the West Coast offense.)

But 1992 was the last time Walsh would post a winning record. The team devolved to a very disappointing 4-7 record; that included a loss in the Big Game against traditional rival cal (lowercase c intentional).

Still, Stanford started the 1994 season with high hopes. The team opened in Illinois on Sept. 10 with a game at Northwestern. This turned out to be a wild and woolly affair. It ended in crushing disappointment — not with a Stanford loss, but in a 41-41 tie. The Cardinal was in position to win, but kicker Eric Abrams (whom I’d tried to interview mid-practice a few years ago) badly missed on a fairly close 23-yard field goal try with three seconds to play.

Abrams, who is left-footed, told reporters that he was bothered by the ball being placed on the left hashmark; he would have preferred to kick from the right. “Before I kicked the ball I knew there was a problem. I didn’t do a good job of adjusting,” Abrams said.

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