The Northwestern Wildcats will host the Nevada Wolf Pack on Saturday, Sept. 2nd. Kickoff for this regular season opener is set for 3:30 EST at Ryan Field in Evanston. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

Want some action on this one? Oddsmakers currently have Northwestern as a 23.5 to 24 point favorite depending on the book you shop at. The over/under for this contest is sitting at 54 points. Click here for more week 1 betting lines and game previews.

Northwestern vs Nevada Vegas Betting Odds & Game Preview

It was a bit of a roller-coaster campaign for the Wildcats in 2016. They started out 0-2, losing at home to both Western Michigan (21-22) and Illinois State (7-9). They were able to recover and finish 6-6 to make a bowl, which they took advantage of with a 31-24 win over Pittsburgh.

With 16 starters back, it’s easy to see why head coach Pat Fitzgerald is excited about the potential of this team. That includes a dynamic 1-2 to punch on offense. With RB Justin Jackson (1,524 yards, 15 TDs) and QB Thorson (3,182 yards, 22-9 TD-INT).

Nevada finished up 5-7 in 2016, which ended up costing head coach Brian Polian his job. In comes Jay Norvell, who was the WR coach at Arizona State last year. It’s an interesting hire, as the 53-year-old Norvell doesn’t have the greatest resume.

He will take over a Wolf Pack team that returns 14 starters (5 offense, 9 defense). The big wild card is junior quarterback David Cornwell, who is an Alabama transfer. If new OC Matt Mumme can get him to gel in the new “Air Raid” attack, Nevada might surprise.

Free College Football Pick Against the Spread: Northwestern -24

While Nevada and all those points look tempting, I’m going to roll the dice and lay the big number with the Wildcats. This is going to be a much improved Northwestern team. Though they aren’t ranked, they are receiving several votes for the Top 25.

Click on the link for more free NCAA football picks from our experts on staff.

I think a lot of people see Nevada’s expected starter is an Alabama transfer and are willing to take a shot on them here. Especially when they see the struggles the Wildcats had last year. The thing is, Cornwell hasn’t even been named the starter and it sounds like Nevada will use multiple quarterbacks.

That tells me Cornwell isn’t all that he’s made out to be. Which shouldn’t be a shocker. If he was an elite player he would still be at Alabama or at least transferred to a better program. The uncertainty at QB will only make it that much harder to transition to a whole new offense.

The “Air Raid” is a fast-paced attack that relies on the passing game. If it’s not working, that’s going to lead to a lot of opportunities for Northwestern’s high-powered offense to run this score up. You also have to figure their will be at least a couple turnovers made by the Wolf Pack on the road.

Another factor here that I think gets overlooked is the fact the Wildcats are going to be 100% locked in after how they started last year. This is a statement game for the Wildcats and they have the playmakers on offense to score 40+ points. Not to mention they have 8 starters back on defense.