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Northwestern-Stanford recap: Drive-by-drive summary

Here is how the Wildcats upset No. 21 Stanford, one drive at a time.

Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

The following is a drive-by-drive summary of Northwestern's 16-6 win over No. 21 Stanford.

1st quarter


Drive start: Stan 24 at 14:56

After winning the toss and electing to receive, Stanford drove down the field with ease. Stanford's line paved the way for Christian McCaffrey and Remound Wright to eat up yards on the ground. However, the drive stalled in the redzone. Tyler Lancaster made a fantastic play on second down on a wide receiver reverse, and on third down, Kevin Hogan's pass to McCaffrey on a wheel route was incomplete. After going 64 yards in 12 plays the Cardinal converted on a 29-yard field goal.

Stanford 3, Northwestern 0


Drive Start: NU 24 at 8:28

Northwestern went three-and-out. On third down, left tackle Geoff Mogus was beat by a speed rush on Clayton Thorson's blind side, and Thorson was hit as he threw, causing an incompletion.


Drive Start: Stan 18 at 7:10

After a Jaylen Prater facemask penalty, Stanford's second drive was all Anthony Walker. First, Walker made a great play tracking down Stanford running back Bryce Love on an end-around, and then on second down, he blew up a screen pass to McCaffrey. Godwin Igwebuike made the stop on third down.


Drive Start: NU 17 at 4:41

Northwestern converted three third downs on a 13-play, 69-yard drive. Justin Jackson converted NU's first with some nice vision on third-and-1 early on the drive. Thorson then found Christian Jones on a third-and-7, and Jackson found space off the left side for the third conversion. Thorson threw two erant passes in the redzone though, and NU was forced to settle for a 31-yard Jack Mitchell field goal.

Stanford 3, Northwestern 3


Drive Start: Stan 30 at 0:47

Northwestern blitzed on third down, Nate Hall got pressure, and Ifeadi Odenigbo combined with Anthony Walker and Deonte Gibson to sack Hogan.

Second quarter


Drive Start: NU 20 at 14:12

A high snap on third down that went over Thorson's head forced NU to punt. The snap on the punt was low, and Niswander's punt went just 39 yards.


Drive Start: Stan 43 at 13:07

Ifeadi Odenigbo made a nice stop on a Kevin Hogan run on second down, but Stanford moved the chains on a pass from Hogan to Remound Wright. On the next set of downs though, Traveon Henry steamrolled Hogan on a blitz on second down, and Stanford lost yards on a run on third-and-13. The punt went for a touchback.


Drive Start: NU 20 at 10:00

Clayton Thorson's first touchdown in a Northwestern uniform came on a 42-yard keeper:

Another long drive (10 plays, 80 yards) for NU began with Thorson running for his first first down as a Wildcat. Thorson then hit Jones for a first down on third-and-6, and Garrett Dickerson for a third chain-mover on third-and-5. Dickerson made an acrobatic leap and stretched for the first down. Then Thorson found the hole off misdirection.

Northwestern 10, Stanford 3


Drive Start: Stan 32 at 6:11

Drew Smith forced a Christian McCaffrey fumble on the second play of the drive. It was recovered by Anthony Walker.


Drive Start: Stan 38 at 5:28

Northwestern went for it on 4th-and-7 from Stanford's 35, and Jones went to the ground to haul in a Thorson pass to convert. A reverse to Jelani Roberts lost five yards though, which halted the drive, and Mitchell's 48-yard field goal missed wide left.

Note: Center Brad North had to be helped off the field with an injury. Ian Park moved to center, and Adam DePietro replaced Park at guard.


Drive Start: Stan 31 at 2:28

Dean Lowry hit Hogan on a third-down throw, and Stanford went three-and-out.


Drive Start: NU 17 at 1:24

After Thorson missed Vitale on a throw, Northwestern decided to play it conservative and take a lead to halftime.

Halftime: Northwestern 10, Stanford 3

Third quarter


Drive Start: NU 25 at 15:00

A Christian Jones hold on the first play of the drive put NU in a hole. Justin Jackson got the Wildcats back into third-and-manageable, but Thorson missed Jones, and NU punted.


Drive Start: Stan 31 at 13:46

On Stanford's first play of the half, McCaffrey broke a big run to the right for 27 yards. Godwin Igwebuike made a touchdown-saving tackle. The pocket collapsed on Hogan on third down in NU territory, and his pass was almost intercepted by Walker. Stanford punted from NU's 38. The punt went for a touchback.


Drive Start: NU 20 at 12:29

Thorson's pass intended for Jones on third down was tipped at the line, and Northwestern punted


Drive Start: Stan 30 at 9:42

Kevin Hogan escaped pressure on third down, but his pass was broken up by a flying Nick VanHoose. Stanford punted, and covered the kick well.


Drive Start: NU 19 at 7:44

Northwestern's drive almost started with disaster, as a wide receiver screen to Roberts fell to the floor, and was a backwards pass. NU recovered the fumble though. And then Thorson made one of his most impressive throws of the day, finding Jones for 17 yards on third-and-13.

On the next series though, NU couldn't get a first down on a Vault run on third-and-1, and elected to punt on fourth-and-1.

Note: Brad North returned to the game at center.


Drive Start: Stan 20 at 4:28

An illegal substitution, Stanford's second of the day, pushed Stanford back to a third-and-7 instead of third-and-2, and Hogan couldn't convert on a pass to the right sideline. Stanford's punt went just 39 yards.


Drive Start: NU 37 at 2:42

Another 13-play drive from NU gave the Wildcats a two-score lead. Thorson found Jackson out of the backfield on third down to get a key first down. Warren Long and Justin Jackson then both ran for first downs, and later, Jackson found a hole off the right side to get NU all the way down to the 5-yard line. The Wildcats couldn't punch it in though, and settled for a field goal on third-and-goal from the 3.

Northwestern 13, Stanford 3

Fourth quarter


Drive Start: Stan 25 at 12:21

Stanford wide receiver Michael Rector dropped what would have been a touchdown on a deep ball from Hogan on the second play of the drive. Later, Kyle Queiro picked off a Hogan pass on third down, but a pass interference penalty gave Stanford a first down.

Northwestern almost had Stanford off the field again when Anthony Walker nearly stepped in front of a Hogan pass and took it the other way. Walker dropped the interception though, and Stanford converted on fourth down. But NU held the Cardinal to a field goal.

Northwestern 13, Stanford 6


Drive Start: NU 25 at 7:26

Northwestern went ultra-conservative, but after two runs, Thorson put great touch on a pass down the right sideline to Miles Shuler to move the chains. That, plus another Jackson first-down run, allowed NU to eat up more clock. And after Thorson missed Shuler on another deep throw, Jack Mitchell's clutch gene emerged and he drove through a 49-yard field goal to make it a two score game.

Northwestern 16, Stanford 6


Drive Start: Stan 28 at 3:30

Stanford moved the ball, and converted on a throw from Hogan to tight end Austin Hooper on fourth down to keep the drive alive. A pass interference call on Matt Harris gave Stanford another first down down to the 10-yard line. But on third down, Kyle Queiro picked off a Hogan pass to seal the win.

After a few Northwestern kneel downs...

Final score: Northwestern 16, Stanford 6