Pick – Analysis
After all of the offseason talk, we’re finally at a big test for Northwestern. Many people talked about the Wildcats ability going into the year and now it’s time for them to show what they can do against the No. 4 team in the country. Ohio State is coming off a big win over Wisconsin, while Northwestern gets two weeks of preparation for this showdown. No matter, the Buckeyes can still be found as -5.5 road favorites at 5 dimes sportsbook.
The Buckeyes expected to go undefeated entering the season and now after their recent win over Wisconsin, those expectations are higher than ever. We now know that they have two top-class quarterbacks available at the ready. Kenny Guiton led the way for three straight Games, but Braxton Miller returned from injury against the Badgers to throw Four touchdowns and run for 83 yards. With receivers like Devin Smith and Corey Brown (five TDs each), it’s going to be hard for any defense to stop this crew. Then of course you still have to throw in Jordan Hall in the backfield, who has 427 yards and eight touchdowns.
Northwestern’s defense has always been its weak point, and there’s no reason to think it won’t be again this season. They haven’t looked great this year, giving up 17 and 21 points to Western Michigan and Maine in their last two Games, respectively. Neither one of those teams should be scoring that many points against a big six school. Maybe the Wildcats were thinking about the Buckeyes, or maybe they just really aren’t that good.
Because of those defensive deficiencies, the Wildcats will need offense in this Game. Led by the duo QB system, Trevor Siemian and Kain Colter bring plenty of problems to opposing defenses. However, they haven’t looked as good since running back Venric Mark went down in the first Game. If he can return for this Game, that would be a huge boost for this offense. Treyvon Green has filled in for 404 yards and five TDs, but it’s not the same.
Colter’s main threat is on the ground where he has 237 rushing yards, but he has been passing better this year, which makes this unit even more dynamic. Siemian is the main passer in this offense, although his rating isn’t much better than Colter’s this season.
Ohio State doesn’t have much familiarity with this system, as these teams haven’t faced each other since 2008. This is a whole new animal for the Buckeyes and they are already coming off a huge Game with Wisconsin, so it will be a short turnaround.
The Buckeyes are now 7-0-1 ATS in their last eight Games overall. That only loss was in the opener against Buffalo. The Wildcats have covered in six straight Conference Games, are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 home Games and are 5-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record. The over has also hit in five straight Games for Northwestern following a bye week.
Our model says Ohio State by more than two touchdowns, while other numbers we like to look at tells us Northwestern can keep this one close. We’re going to go against Our model here and take Northwestern, with the HUGE emotional boost they get here being the deciding factor. This is one of the biggest home Games for Northwestern in years. National TV audience, prime time, you get the picture. Northwestern +7