The Michigan State Spartans (2-1) travel to Evanston this weekend for a BIG 10 showdown against the Northwestern Wildcats (1-1). Kickoff is set for 12:00 PM EST on Saturday, September 21st at Ryan Field and the game will be televised nationally on ABC.

Taking a look at the Week 4 college football odds, Northwestern opened as a 6.5-point home underdog earlier this week. That line has increased by two full points after early betting, as the Wildcats are currently listed at +8.5. The total for the game is sitting at 38.5 points.

Vegas Betting Preview & Game Odds: Northwestern vs Michigan State

Michigan State is coming off of their first lost of the season last weekend after a very impressive 2-0 start to the year. The Spartans were home favorites against Arizona State but couldn’t find a way to score more than a touchdown against a tough Sun Devils defense, losing 10-7. QB Brian Lewerke had a decent outing, going 24/38 for 291 yards. RB Elijah Collins scored Michigan State’s only touchdown of the game on one of his team-high 19 carries. WR Darrell Stewart Jr. caused major issues for the Arizona State secondary, making nine receptions for 121 yards. As a whole, Michigan State gained just over 400 total yards of offense despite finding the end zone just once.

The Spartans defense was pretty solid for the most part, holding the Sun Devils offense to just over 200 total yards and allowing only one touchdown. Michigan State was especially tough against the pass, as QB Jayden Daniels was only 15/26 for 140 yards and no touchdowns.

Northwestern got back to .500 overall last weekend after beating UNLV 30-14 at home. The Wildcats only led by two points at the half before really pouring it on down the stretch and scoring 14 unanswered points to close out the victory. QB Hunter Johnson was average at best, going just 12/25 for 165 yards and a touchdown. RB Drake Anderson was the star of the game offensively for Northwestern, rushing 26 times for 141 yards and a touchdown. WR JJ Jefferson also had a decent outing, catching two passes for 61 yards and a score. Overall, the offense racked up almost 450 yards of total offense and scored three touchdowns against a below average Rebels defense.

The Wildcats defense was very solid in Week 3, holding UNLV to just two touchdowns and 120 passing yards. However, Rebels RB Charles Williams torched Northwestern on the ground, rushing for 144 yards and two touchdowns on a team-high 16 carries.

NCAA Football Betting Predictions & Free Pick: Northwestern +8.5

While Michigan State looked like pretty good value when they opened up at -6.5, I cant find a way to lay 8.5 points when the total for this game is well under 40 points. This has all the makings of a grind it out, defensive battle that could easily come down to a late field goal. I do think the Spartans will find a way to rebound here in Week 4, especially after such a disappointing outing last Saturday against Arizona State. However, Northwestern finally found a way to put some points on the board in Week 3 after scoring just seven against Stanford in their season opener. If the Wildcats keep it simple and keep feeding Drake Anderson, their defense should do enough to keep them within striking distance of Michigan State.

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Northwestern has fared very well as an underdog as of late, going 11-4-1 ATS over their last fifteen games as an underdog of at least three points. The Wildcats are also a very solid 20-6-1 ATS in their last 27 conference games. It is also worth noting that Michigan State has really struggled against Northwestern over the past several seasons, going just 1-4 ATS over their last five meetings. I’m going to happily grab the 8.5 points in this particular spot considering it should be a defense-first, low scoring affair. Give me the Wildcats to cover at home on Saturday!