- Associated Press - Thursday, September 3, 2015

No. 21 Stanford (8-5 in 2014) at Northwestern (5-7), Noon (ESPN)

Line: Stanford by 12.

Series Record: Stanford leads 3-1-2

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Stanford is trying to show that a strong finish in 2014 was a sign of things to come and not just an aberration in a difficult season. The Cardinal won their final three games for an 8-5 record after winning at least 11 games and reaching a BCS bowl the previous four years. Northwestern is trying to rediscover the formula that led to five straight bowl appearances and a 10-3 mark in 2012 before back-to-back 5-7 seasons.



KEY MATCHUP

Stanford dominated inside with strong lines and a powerful running game on the way to four straight BCS games. But for most of last year, the Cardinal were unable to do that. Northwestern’s defensive line is experienced and anchored by DT C.J. Robbins.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Stanford: QB Kevin Hogan. After leading Stanford to the Rose Bowl his first two seasons as a starter, Hogan had to deal with the death of his father during his junior season. He still threw for 2,792 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Northwestern: QB Clayton Thorson. A freshman, Thorson beat out senior Matt Oliver and sophomore Matt Alviti for the starting job. The Wildcats were looking for a quarterback with Trevor Siemian now in the NFL.

FACTS & FIGURES

Stanford and Northwestern last met Sept. 10, 1994, when they played to a 41-41 tie. Back then, the Cardinal’s David Shaw (receiver) and Wildcats’ Pat Fitzgerald (linebacker) were playing for the teams they now coach. … With 24 wins as a starting quarterback, Hogan trails only Ohio State’s Braxton Miller (26) among active FBS players … Northwestern’s RB Justin Jackson looks to build on a strong first year, when he ran for 1,187 yards and joined Tyrell Sutton (1,474 in 2005) as the only Wildcats freshmen to rush for 1,000.

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