The No. 14 Michigan Wolverines (-12.5) and Northwestern Wildcats are set to face off on the grass at Ryan Field. This afternoon matchup is scheduled to kick off at 4:30 p.m. ET and fans can watch the action live on FOX.
Betting Preview: Michigan Wolverines vs. Northwestern Wildcats
Northwestern is a live dog here and is currently getting 12.5 points. The Wolverines are also receiving -525 moneyline odds while the Wildcats are +360. If one team finds paydirt early, it will likely generate a worthwhile in-game betting opportunity.
The game’s opening line was 11, but sharp bettors have been siding with the Wolverines.
The Wolverines are down 0.6 units so far in 2018 and 2-2 against the spread (ATS). The team has posted an Over-Under record of 2-2.
The Wildcats have lost 0.6 units this season. The team is 1-2 ATS and has an O/U record of 2-1.
The Wolverines are 3-1 straight up (SU), including 1-0 SU against conference opponents. The Wildcats are 1-2 SU overall and 1-0 SU in conference play.
Michigan enters this contest on a zero-game losing streak while Northwestern has won each of its last zero. The Wolverines want to keep things rolling after a 56-10 win over Nebraska last week where the Wolverines completed 18-of-31 passes for 206 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Shea Patterson went 15-for-22 for 120 yards and one touchdown while Dylan McCaffrey completed three-of-eight for 86 yards and one touchdown. Karan Higdon (136 yards on 12 rushes, one TD) and Christian Turner (55 yards on 10 carries) led the ground attack in the win while Grant Perry (four receptions, five yards) and Zach Gentry (three catches, 32 yards, one TD) handled the receiving duties.
Back on September 15, Akron took care of this Northwestern crew by a score of 39-34. The Wildcats defensive secondary allowed the Zips to air it out for 277 yards and two touchdowns. Kwadarrius Smith put up a solid outing for Akron, posting 90 yards on six catches. As a group, the Wildcats collectively completed 37-of-58 passes for 405 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Clayton Thorson went 33-for-52 for 383 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions while TJ Green was four-of-six for 22 yards. Jeremy Larkin (82 rushing yards on 22 attempts, two TDs) spearheaded the ground game in the defeat as Cameron Green (11 receptions, 125 yards, two TDs) and Larkin (eight catches, 52 yards) led the pass-catching corps.
Michigan’s run the ball on 59.9 percent of its offensive possessions this year while Northwestern has an overall rush percentage of 42.1 percent. The Wolverines have run for 212.0 yards/game and have 10 touchdowns via handoffs this year. The Wildcats are totaling 117.0 rush yards per game and have seven total rushing TDs.
It appears that the Wolverines may have an edge in terms of efficiency in the ground game. Their backfield has produced 5.5 yards per carry while their defense is allowing 2.7 YPC to opponents. The Wildcats have tallied 3.2 yards per carry and allowed a YPC of 3.9 to opponents.
The Wolverines offensive scheme has averaged 208.8 yards in the air overall and has nine passing TDs so far. The Wildcats have produced 307.3 pass yards per outing and have three total pass scores.
Defensively, Michigan appears to have the upper hand in both facets. The team has allowed 101.0 rush yards and 139.3 pass yards per game. The Northwestern defense has allowed 250.3 yards per game to opposing passers and 129.7 yards per game on the ground. The Wolverines are allowing an adjusted net yards per pass attempt (ANY/A) of just 3.09 to opponents, while the Wildcats have given up a 6.84 ANY/A.
Offensively, Patterson has put up 472 passing yards this season. He’s completed 47-of-69 attempts with four passing scores and one interception. He’s got a 6.08 adjusted net yards per pass attempt overall, although that number sits at 9.10 over the past two games.
We’re looking for Wolverines to maintain tempo by feeding their running backs early and often. Along with Zach Gentry (53 yards, one TD), Karan Higdon (364 rush yards, three rush TDs) and Tru Wilson (97 rush yards) have delivered in the offensive scheme for Michigan.
Clayton Thorson has connected on 49-of-78 passes for 555 yards, three TDs and two INTs for Northwestern. His ANY/A sits at 6.41 for the year and 5.00 over his last two games.
The Wildcats also like to keep their backfield involved. In addition to Jeremy Larkin (72 receiving yards), Flynn Nagel (zero rush yards, 93 receiving yards) and Cameron Green (-4 rush yards, 175 receiving yards, two TDs) have gotten a lot of looks recently.
These two Big 10 foes did not get a chance to face each other a year ago.
Michigan Wolverines vs. Northwestern Wildcats Free Pick
SU Winner: Michigan, ATS Winner: Michigan
- Michigan was favored by 18 points in its last game and the O/U going into it was 53.5. The over cashed and Michigan covered in the 56-10 victory over Nebraska.
- Michigan, as a team, has averaged 5.6 yards per carry over its past two matchups.
- Northwestern has averaged 2.7 YPC over its last two.
- Each team has lost one fumble this season.
- In its last three matches, Michigan is 2-1 ATS and the over cashed in two of those three.
- Northwestern was favored by 21 points in its previous game and the O/U was set at 47.5. The over cashed and Northwestern did not cover in that 39-34 defeat to Akron.
- Over its last three contests, Northwestern is 1-2 ATS and the over cashed in two of those three.
- The Wolverines offense has recorded four pass plays of 40+ yards, while the Wildcats have put up two such plays.
- The Michigan defense has allowed two pass plays of 40 or more yards, while Northwestern has given up four such plays.
- The Michigan offense has created nine rushing plays of 20 yards or more, while Northwestern has created three such runs.
- Both defenses have allowed four rushing plays of 20+ yards. The Wolverines have given up 22 running plays of 10+ yards while the Wildcats have given up 10 such plays.
- The Michigan defense has twice as many sacks as Northwestern this year (10 to five).