Michigan vs Northwestern – NCAAF Pick for September 29th

by Rick Rockwell
on September 25, 2018
6

Minute Read

On Saturday, the #14 ranked Michigan Wolverines travel to Illinois to take on the Northwestern Wildcats. Michigan is looking to get their first road win of the season and Northwestern is looking to pull off an upset in the Big 10. Kickoff inside Ryan Field is at 4:30 PM ET.

Betting Data Michigan Wolverines Northwestern Wildcats
Current S/U record 3-1 1-2
2018 ATS 2-2 1-2
2018 ATS Home 2-1 0-2
2018 ATS Away 0-1 1-0
2018 O/U 2-2 2-1
2018 O/U Home 2-1 1-1
2018 O/U Away 0-1 1-0

Michigan Wolverines vs Northwestern Wildcats Big Ten Preview

Saturday’s matchup will be the 75th time these schools have played against each other. The Wolverines have dominated this rivalry going 57-15-2 all-time against the Wildcats. Michigan is 10-1 in the last 11 meetings, including winning the last 5 straight. Michigan has also won the last 6 games at Northwestern.

Michigan (3-1) has won three straight games after losing their season opener to Notre Dame. They have played against weaker opponents, but have beaten them convincingly, which is what the NCAAF pundits, polls and oddsmakers have all wanted to see from the Wolverines. This weekend, they get another inferior opponent on paper. Will Michigan continue their winning streak or will they stumble in Evanston?

Northwestern (1-2) started off the year with a nice win over Purdue, but has dropped two straight games since then. The Wildcats are coming off a bye week, which means they’ve had 2 weeks to prepare for the Wolverines. Unfortunately, they will be without their leading rusher as sophomore back Jeremy Larkin retired due to a medical diagnosis that will prevent him from playing football.

The spread opened with Michigan favored by 11 points. Currently, most online betting sites have the Wolverines as a 14 point favorite. The Over/Under opened at 48 total points and remains unchanged with most sportsbooks.

Free Spread Bet and Big Ten Game Prediction

The Wolverines come into this contest averaging 41.8 points per game and seemed to have found their offensive groove after being held to 17 points in a dysfunctional loss to Notre Dame at the beginning of the 2018 season. Michigan has scored at least 45 points in their last 3 games, and I expect them to come close to that magic number again.

Offensively, the Wolverines average 420.8 total yards per game with a solid balance of 208.8 passing ypg and 212 rushing ypg. QB Shea Patterson has rebounded since the season opener and now has 709 yards passing, 7 TDs, and 2 interceptions. In the opener vs ND, Patterson had zero touchdowns and 1 pick. On the ground, Higdon is leading the charge with 364 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns on the season. There’s also a chance that the talented backup RB Evans will return to action. Evans has 172 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns on the season.

Northwestern averages 24 ppg and 424 total yards per game. Unfortunately, without their leading rusher Larkin who also has 12 receptions, this offense is going to be in trouble. QB Clayton Thorson won’t be able to put up a lot of points on the scoreboard especially against this Michigan defense. For the season, Thorson has 753 yards, 3 TDs and 3 picks.

If Northwestern can’t score more than 7 points against Duke, what makes anyone think they will hang with the Wolverines on Saturday? The Michigan defense is allowing only 14.3 ppg and 240.3 total ypg. They have allowed 101 rushing ypg, but that shouldn’t be a concern this weekend against Northwestern. As for Thorson against the Wolverines pass defense, Big Blue only allows 139.3 ypg through the air. Even in their loss to ND, Michigan only allowed Wimbush to throw for 170 yards.

The more I look into this game, the more I feel that Michigan will route the Wildcats. In fact, I believe this spread is low considering the difference in talent on paper. These two teams haven’t played against each other since 2015, when Michigan won 38-0. Most of the spread data for this rivalry is a bit outdated considering the major changes to these teams.

With that said, ignore the head-to-head spread numbers and just focus on the following: Michigan is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Big 10 games and Northwestern is 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games during September and 0-2 ATS at home this year.

Keep in mind, Michigan’s next game is against Maryland so there will be no overlooking Northwestern this weekend. In other words, this isn’t a trap game for the Wolverines. With that said, I expect Michigan to come out and route the Wildcats on Saturday. Look for that Michigan defense to shutdown Northwestern and hold them to around 14 points. Watch as Patterson moves the ball and makes plays when needed. Northwestern is prone to giving up yards on the ground, so I expect Higdon to have a big game as he will go over 100 yards and score twice.

Avoid the moneyline as the odds provide no betting value. Go with the Wolverines to easily cover the spread as Michigan will win this game 38 to 14.

Michigan vs Northwestern Betting Recap:

  • Oddsmaker: BetOnline
  • Money lines: Michigan (-550) vs Northwestern (+445)
  • Spread: Michigan -14 (-111)
  • Over/Under: 48 total points (-110)
  • Prediction: Michigan 38 – Northwestern 14
Pick: Wolverines -14
-111

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