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Northwestern vs. Rutgers,
10-20-2018 - Expert Prediction

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Game Snapshot with Current Line

#325 Northwestern
Wildcats -20
#326 Rutgers
Scarlet Knights 49

Saturday, October 20, 2018 at 12:00pm

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

Game Stats

Northwestern Wildcats

3 - 3


Rutgers Scarlet Knights

1 - 6


The Northwestern Wildcats (3-3) travel to New York to take on Rutgers University (1-6) in a Big Ten matchup. Northwestern sits alone atop the Big Ten West and a win on Saturday would go a long way towards securing a possible Big Ten Title. Kickoff at HighPoint.com Stadium is scheduled for noon eastern.

Northwestern Is Having a Fine Season

Wildcats Senior QB Clayton Thorson has completed 159 of 254 pass attempts for 1755 yards, 9 TD’s and 7 interceptions. Thorson also has been sacked 14 times. Those sacks have more to do with a struggling offensive line than it does with Thorson’s mobility.  Thorson also has two rushing TD’s this season and has rushed for -82 yards this season. Senior WR Flynn Nagel is Thorson’s go to guy and has caught 48 passes for 622 yards and two TD’s. Junior WR Cameron Green (30-280-3) is another high target receiver but Nagel is the number one option. When Northwestern does run the ball Sophomore RB Jeremy Larkin is their guy with 346 yards and five TD’s on 72 attempts.

Northwestern has converted 38 percent of their third down attempts and 30 percent of its fourth down chances. The Wildcats have also scored on 16 of their 21 Red Zone opportunities this season.

The Wildcats defense allows 403.8 total yards per game; 254.8 passing yards and 149.3 rushing yards. This Wildcat defense has allowed 15 TD’s this season and teams have converted 35 percent of its third downs and 22 percent of fourth downs. Opposing teams have scored on 17 of their 19 Red Zone opportunities this season. The Wildcats defense has six interceptions, eight sacks and allow an average of 26.2 points per game this season.

Rutgers Puts the “S” in Struggling

Rutgers is coming off a 34-7 hammering at the hands of Maryland and now have to figure out a way to not get embarrassed in front of their home crowd. The Scarlet Knights average 15.1 points per game; as you can imagine they have a low total offense of 281.6 yards per game. Rutgers averages 147.1 passing yards and 134.4 rushing yards per game. Rutgers’ collection of QB’s have thrown 17 interceptions and have been sacked just 9 times this season. See, there is a bright spot on this offense.

The Scarlet Knights convert 32 percent of their third down tries, 50 percent of their fourth down tries and has scored om 14 of their 20 Red Zone possessions this season.

The Scarlet Knights defense allows 426 total yards per game; 188.3 passing yards, 237.7 rushing yards and 30.1 points per game. Rutgers has allowed 29 TD’s and teams have converted 45 percent of their third downs , 66 percent of their fourth downs and teams have scored on 19 of their 23 Red Zone possessions. The Scarlet Knights defense has scored two TD’s, four interceptions and nine sacks.

The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.

Full-Game Side Bet

Rutgers is such a bad football team that even their bloggers are laying the points and playing the Wildcats. That’s saying something as most SB Nation bloggers are huge homers. Northwestern is one of those teams that always goes overlooked and winds up covering the spread darn near every week. If you don’t believe me than please look at these trends again

  • Wildcats are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games on fieldturf.
  • Wildcats are 9-1-1 ATS in their last 11 games in October.
  • Wildcats are 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 games after accumulating less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game.
  • Wildcats are 5-1-1 ATS in their last 7 games after accumulating more than 280 yards passing in their previous game.
  • Wildcats are 9-2-1 ATS in their last 12 games after allowing more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
  • Wildcats are 21-5-1 ATS in their last 27 conference games.

21 points is quite a few points and I can’t blame people for wanting to bet their hard earned money on the Scarlet Knights. But the numbers don’t lie and this Northwestern team shouldn’t have any trouble covering the spread on Saturday afternoon.

Prediction: Northwestern -21

Full-Game Total Pick

Covering the 21 points is going to take nearly half our total and I feel fairly confidant Northwestern covers the 21 on the road Saturday. Against that awful defense Northwestern might even double the 21 and score 42 points. Northwestern plays decent defense and will probably allow a couple of TD’s, especially late in the game. That leaves us with a score of 42-14 and I feel comfortable handicapping that score. Play the over and cash that ticket on Saturday afternoon!

Prediction: Over 49.5 Points

Phil Naessens

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