The game began with deep concern about quarterback Kevin Hogan and the status of his injured left ankle. He had sat out most of the previous week's practice in hopes of being healthy for this critical road game, and reporters monitored his every move as he took warm-ups before the game, returned to the locker room for treatment, emerged with his ankle wrapped, and was pronounced ready for action. Cardinal fans exhaled for the first time in a week (though there would be even bigger injury concerns later), and the game was finally underway.
Things couldn't have started out better for the Cardinal offense, which featured running back Christian McCaffrey on an opening drive that would give the Beavers a good notion of what the rest of the game would bring. Christian the Lion rumbled with authority, taking the ball on the first five official plays of the series (there was a pass interference play that erased an attempt to Michael Rector) for a total of 35 yards. After a nice 12-yard pass to Devon Cajuste converted a 3rd and 4, McCaffrey rushed for five more yards before giving way to the touchdown machine, Remound Wright, who plunged in from a yard out to give his Cardinal a 7-0 lead.