The Northwestern Wildcats (1-2) host the #14 Michigan Wolverines (3-1) this weekend in BIG 10 Conference action. Kickoff is set for 4:30 PM PM EST at Ryan Field and the game will be available on FOX.
Taking a look at the Week 5 college football odds, Michigan opened as a 11-point road favorite earlier this week. That line has increased by a full field goal after early betting, as the Wolverines are currently listed at -14. The total for the game is sitting at 48 points.
Vegas Betting Preview & Game Odds: Northwestern vs Michigan
Michigan gave a dominant performance last weekend, crushing Nebraska 56-10 to move up to #14 overall nationwide. The Wolverines have looked fantastic since a disappointing Week 1 loss to Notre Dame, winning three consecutive games by an average of 39 points. They still have about a 10% chance of making the College Football Playoff, largely thanks to a ridiculously tough schedule that includes games against Wisconsin, Michigan State, Penn State, and Ohio State. RB Karan Higdon has led the way on the ground for Michigan and is fresh off a game where he racked up 136 yards and a touchdown on only 12 carries. QB Shea Patterson has completed over 70% of his passes while throwing for 709 yards and seven touchdowns in just four games.
The Wolverines have looked great defensively, as they are currently giving up an average of just 14.3 points per game on 240.3 total yards per game. LB Devin Bush is having another outstanding season, as he currently leads Michigan with 29 tackles on the season already.
Northwestern still hasn’t won a game at home this season and is fresh off their second consecutive loss, this time at the hands of the Akron Zips. The Wildcats were up 21-3 at halftime and seemed in total control of the game before Akron intercepted a Clayton Thorson pass and returned it 96 yards for a touchdown. Thorson had an up and down game, finding the end zone three times through the air while also coughing up two interceptions and a fumble – all of which were returned for touchdowns. The senior QB will need to play much better if Northwestern hopes to pull off the upset at home on Saturday, as his quarterback rating is currently an abysmal 49.7. The Wildcats are currently averaging 24 points per game on 424 total yards of offense per game.
On the other side of the ball, the Wildcats defense will have their work cut out for them if they hope to slow down a high-flying Michigan offense that is currently averaging over 40 points per game. Northwestern has allowed an average of 29 points on 380 total yards over their first four games. LB Paddy Fisher has racked up 28 tackles since Week 1 while DE Joe Gaziano has chipped in with two sacks.
NCAA Football Betting Predictions & Free Pick: Michigan -14
This line has moved a lot since the Wolverines opened at -11, but I still think there is some value to be found with Michigan in this particular spot. Northwestern has really struggled on both sides of the ball over their past couple of games, especially at the quarterback position. Thorson is a turnover machine right now, and I find it hard to imagine him suddenly being able to hold onto the ball against one of the best defenses in the country. Michigan already has 4 interceptions on the season and I expect that number to go up by at least 2-3 on Saturday afternoon. I don’t see how the Wildcats will be able to put up enough points to keep pace with a gifted offensive team that also has the 14th overall scoring defense.
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Northwestern is just 3-8 ATS over their past 11 games in September and 1-4 ATS in their past five home games against opponents with a winning record. Michigan is an impressive 4-1 ATS over their past five conference games and 4-2 ATS over their past six meetings with Northwestern when playing on the road.
Michigan has lost three out of their last four road games but I fully expect that to turn around on Saturday in Evanston. It cannot be overstated how important it is for the Wolverines to keep building momentum before facing four Top 25 teams before the end of their season. They made a huge statement against Nebraska last weekend, winning by 46 points when the line was only -18.5. Northwestern has been pretty good against the run but has struggled mightily through the air, allowing an average of 250.3 passing yards per game (94th). I expect Shea Patterson to have a solid game en route to a 15+ point Michigan victory. I’ll lay the points and roll with the Wolverines.