These teams haven’t lived up to expectations in the early season and that will have to change soon if they want to be happy at the end of the year. Northwestern is coming off a tough Michigan loss and Michigan State played an incomplete Game against lowly Central Michigan. The Spartans still opened as -11 point home favorites with an over/under of 44.5 as of Wednesday at YOUWAGER Sportsbook.
When these teams met a year ago Northwestern won 39-31 in three overtimes, but the Scoreat the end of regulation was 17-17. Both had trouble moving the ball on the ground and it turned into a battle between Brian Lewerke and Clayton Thorson. With how the first month of the season has gone, this Game could go the same way, which makes the spread feel a bit high. MSU hasn’t looked great in any Game this season and failing to separate from a bad CMU team wasn’t good. Northwestern has the opposite record, yet probably has played as well with a more difficult Schedule. They were unfortunate not to win against Michigan last weekend, but will try and steal this one on the road.
MSU’s run defense is one of the best in the nation, but it continues to give up chunks through the air and that’s where Thorson steps in. He had 356 yards in last year’s meeting and will hope to breakout again. The problem is that he’s disappointed in his senior season with only three touchdowns and three interceptions on a poor 6.48 yards per attempt. Flynn Nagel has been a safety blanket, but top running back Jeremy LArkin is no longer on the team and that doesn’t help the situation. With John Moten at running back, the Wildcats could have more trouble rushing the ball and that could lead to less than 50 yards rushing in this contest.
But on the other side, there’s no guarantee the Spartans will move the ball consistently since they haven’t done that all season. Lewerke has a better 8.19 yards per attempt, but he has five touchdowns and five interceptions. It doesn’t help that the receiving core is beat up with Cody White out, and he was the top receiver in last year’s Game with 165 yards and two touchdowns. Top running back LJ SCott has been injured, but he wasn’t doing much when healthy as the ground Game is averaging just 3.3 yards per carry.
Neither one of these teams is a safe bet, which makes a spread over 10 points feel too big. MSU hasn’t done anything to deserve it and when these teams met in East LAnsing two years ago, Northwestern stole it 54-40. Playing at home is nice, but Spartan Stadium hasn’t stopped Michigan State from playing poorly this season.
The Wildcats are 5-0 ATS in their last five road Games and 9-3 ATS in their last 12 overall. The Spartans are 9-4 ATS in their last 13 at home, but 1-4 ATS in their last five on grass. Northwestern has covered the last seven meetings between these teams played in East LAnsing and the road team is 13-3 ATS in their last 16 matchups overall.
Our Pick – Northwestern +11