College Football Pick
Probably no one expected this to be a Top 20 matchup going into the season, but here we are. Northwestern comes in a surprising 5-0 with a legitimate shot to win the Big Ten West, while Michigan has won Four straight and has allowed 14 points total in the last Four Games. In Ann Arbor, the Wolverines are a decent-sized -8 point favorite at Mybookie.ag
Considering Michigan has covered its last two Games by large margins, this line was pushed to eight with the hopes of finding some Northwestern backers. The Wildcats have been kind to bettors this season with a nice 4-1 ATS mark including last week’s 27-0 win over Minnesota. Michigan had a similar result, winning at Maryland 28-0, a week after topping BYU 31-0.
It wouldn’t be surprising if this Game mirrored what happened last year when the Wolverines won 10-9 on the road in a defensive slugfest. These defenses are probably better than a year ago, while the offenses still remain a question.
The Wolverines have gotten the job done though, and that’s mainly because their defense isn’t allowing anyone to score. Because of that, they have been able to lean on the running Game a ton. De’Veon Smith (331 yards) didn’t travel to Maryland, but he could be back for this Game with an ankle injury. If not, there could be a split between Drake Johnson, Derrick Green and Ty Isaac again.
Northwestern’s success has come by stopping opponent’s rushing Games and it has helped that they haven’t faced an elite quarterback yet. Jake Rudock is far from elite and even with a solid running Game, he hasn’t found much success throwing the ball. He hasn’t surpassed 200 yards since the first Game when he also threw three interceptions. On the year, Rudock is completing 60.1% of his passes for 5 TDs and 6 INTs.
It’s expected to be more of the same on the other end. Michigan has not allowed anything in the past Four Games, although there really hasn’t been that much of a challenge since that Utah loss. BYU was ranked at the time of that Game, but had some luck getting there.
The Wildcats are even more run-based than Michigan behind Justin Jackson, who already has 138 carries for 636 yards. Even if he doesn’t find a ton of holes, Northwestern will still give him touches and he’s hit 100 yards in all but one Game (78 yards in a blowout win). against Stanford he went for 134 and then 120 yards against Minnesota last weekend. Freshman quarterback Clayton Thorson hasn’t been asked to do much, completing 56.6% of his passes for 4 TDs and 3 INTs, but he may have to do more here. To have a chance at an upset, Thorson needs to limit turnovers.
Our Pick – Betonline is the first book to post lines each week. For this Game, they made Michigan a -12 point favorite over Northwestern. Regardless of the outcome of this Game, that was a ridiculous opener. The 3.5 to 4 point line move shows that quite a few early bettors agree with Our assessment.
With the current line -8 to -8.5, we still feel there’s value with Northwestern, This was a 10-9 Game a year ago. Northwestern returned pretty much their entire defense from a year ago. This is a defense that held Stanford to 6 points. The same Stanford that hung 55 on Arizona last week and 41 on USC.
This certainly doesn’t figure to be a high scoring affair as neither offense is exactly lighting up the scoreboard. With points at a premium, that +8.5 could loom large.
Besides, would anyone be truly shocked if Northwestern won this Game straight up? We wouldn’t be. Northwestern +8.5 3* KEY RELEASE