NCAA Football Free Preview: Northwestern Wildcats at Michigan State Spartans

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The No. 20 Spartans (-12) are gearing up to welcome their in-conference nemesis Northwestern Wildcats to Michigan State. This afternoon game is scheduled to kick off at 12:00 p.m. ET and FS1 will broadcast the action.

Betting Preview: Northwestern Wildcats at Michigan State Spartans

In this Saturday Big Ten game, Michigan State has been tabbed as the heavy favorite and is currently giving up 12 points. The Wildcats are also receiving +340 moneyline odds while the Spartans are -475. Oddsmakers have placed the over/under (O/U) at 48 points, and if one school can create a bunch of points early, it’ll likely create a reasonable live betting opportunity.

The early action has swayed in favor of the Spartans. The line opened at -11 and the game’s O/U has not moved after being set initially at 48.

The Wildcats are 2-2 against the spread (ATS) and have lost 1.6 units so far in 2018. The team has posted an O/U record of 2-2.

The Spartans are down 1.0 unit this season. The team is 1-3 ATS and three of its games have gone over the total.

The Wildcats have gone an ugly 1-3 straight up (SU), including 1-1 SU against Big 10 opponents. The Spartans are 3-1 SU overall and are also 1-0 SU in conference play.

Michigan State enters this matchup on a three-game losing streak while Northwestern has won its last two in a row. The Wildcats came up short to Michigan 20-17 in a game where Clayton Thorson completed 16-of-27 passes for just 174 yards. The Wildcats rushed for just 28 yards as a team in the defeat.

Michigan State just earned a 31-20 win over Central Michigan. The team’s defense did its part in the victory, restricting the Chippewas to just 182 passing yards and 63 yards on the ground. Brandon Childress was a bright spot in the loss, recording 46 yards on three catches for Central Michigan. For Michigan State, Brian Lewerke completed 16-of-25 passes for 185 yards and one interception. Connor Heyward did it all in the win. Along with 48 rushing yards on 15 attempts (and one TD), Heyward also reeled in four catches for 16 yards.

Northwestern has run the ball on 44.4 percent of its offensive possessions this year while Michigan State has a rush percentage of 55.9 percent. The Wildcats have produced 94.8 rush yards per game (including 97.0 per game versus Big Ten opponents) and have nine scores via handoffs this year. The Spartans are putting up 129.8 rush yards per game and have eight total rushing TDs.

It appears that the Spartans might hold an advantage in all aspects of the ground game. Their running backs has produced 3.3 yards per carry while their defense has allowed a YPC of 1.5 to opponents. The Wildcats have registered 2.6 yards per carry while allowing 4.0 yards per rush attempt to opponents.

The Wildcats offense has logged 274.0 yards/game through the air overall (204.5 per game against conference opposition) and has three passing TDs so far. The Spartans have produced 251.3 pass yards per game and have five total pass scores.

Defensively, Northwestern appears to have the upper hand when it comes to limiting the pass. The team has allowed 142.3 rush yards and 236.8 pass yards per game. The Michigan State defense has allowed 288.3 yards per game to opposing passers and 40.3 yards per game on the ground. The Spartans are allowing an adjusted net yards per pass attempt (ANY/A) of only 4.72 to opponents, while the Wildcats have given up a 7.01 ANY/A.

Lewerke has completed 66-of-97 passes for 786 yards, three TDs and three INTs for Michigan State. His adjusted net yards per pass attempt stands at 6.51 for the season and 4.89 over his last two outings. In the other huddle, Thorson is up to 544 passing yards on the year. He’s completed 54-of-91 attempts with zero passing touchdowns and one interception. Thorson’s got a 4.37 ANY/A, including 5.43 over the last two outings.

When these two programs met last year, Northwestern emerged victorious by a final score of 39-31.

Northwestern Wildcats vs. Michigan State Spartans NCAA Pick

SU Winner: Northwestern, ATS Winner: Northwestern, O/U: Over

Team Betting Trends

  • The Michigan State defense has sacked opposing quarterbacks 11 times this year. Northwestern has registered six sacks.
  • Michigan State has lost three fumbles in 2018 while Northwestern has lost one.
  • The Wildcats offense has tallied two pass plays of 40 yards or more, while the Spartans have put up one such play.
  • The Northwestern defense has allowed four pass plays of 40+ yards, while Michigan State has given up one such play.
  • Both teams have produced three rushing plays of 20 yards or more. The Northwestern offense has recorded seven running plays of 10+ yards while Michigan State has accounted for 12 such plays.
  • The Wildcats defense has allowed six rushing plays of 20 yards or more, while the Spartans have given up zero such runs.
  • Michigan State was favored by 28 points in its last matchup and the Over/Under was set at 45.5. The over cashed and Michigan State failed to cover in the 31-20 triumph over Central Michigan.
  • Over its last three games, Michigan State is 1-2 ATS and the over cashed in two of those three.
  • In its last three matches, Northwestern is 1-2 ATS and the under cashed in two of those three.
  • Northwestern was the underdog by 15 points in its last game and the Over/Under was set at 46.5. The under cashed and Northwestern covered in the 20-17 defeat to Michigan.
  • Northwestern, as a team, has averaged 2.08823529411765 yards per carry over its last three games and 1.6 over its last two.
  • Michigan State has averaged 3.1 yards per carry over its last three contests and 3.3 over its past two.