Northwestern football has not won a game on American soil since October 16th, 2021, but they look to turn things around this year. It is time to continue our college football odds series with a Northwestern football over/under win total prediction and pick.
Pat Fitzgerald and Northwestern started the year solid. They beat Nebraska 31-28 in Dublin Ireland to start the year. Then, they came back to the United States. They proceeded to be upset by Duke, Southern Illinois, and Miami (OH) before Big Ten play. Conference play for the Wildcats was awful. They lost all eight games in conference play to finish the season 1-11. There were bright spots though. They lost at Penn State by just 10. They only lost by seven at Maryland and lost to eventual division champs, Purdue, by 11. Still, they were blown out multiple times, including losses by 28, 35, and 38 points.
What truly did Northwestern in last year was the turnovers. They lost 31 turnovers last year which ranked them 130th out of 131 teams. Between five different quarterbacks taking a snap for the Wildcats, they threw 17 interceptions. Enter Ben Bryant. He threw seven all of last year while attempting nearly as many passes as all of the Northwestern quarterbacks combined. While Northwestern sits 115th in returning production of the offense, it may not be a bad thing. The only major players the Wildcats lost were tackle Peter Skoronski, and Malik Washington at wide receiver. The offensive line still returns Caleb Tierman, while Cam Porter returns in the backfield.
Here are the College Football Odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
College Football Odds: Northwestern Over/Under Win Total Odds
Over 3.5 wins: -128
Under 3.5 wins: +104
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Why Northwestern Can Win 3.5 Games
Northwestern opens the season with a probable loss at home against Nebraska. Still, the schedule lines up enough for them to get to 3.5 wins. First, they have to take advantage of the non-conference schedule. They will be favored in all three of the non-conference games this year. At home against Duke, they will be favored. Duke struggled to score and did not add any major pieces. Southern Illinois is a game that cannot be dropped for Northwestern. They are an FCS team without the same level of talent. Finally, there is Miami (OH). They lost their top offensive weapon in Mac Hippenhammer, but do bring back Keyon Mozee. They need to get two wins here at minimum, and three would be huge.
After that the schedule gets difficult. They go to Penn State and then host Wisconsin. Even with all the turnover for the Badgers, they will be the better side. Maryland is interesting. Northwestern always boasts a quality defense. Turnovers did cost them the game last year, but Maryland brings back a lot on offense. That will be a tough game, but Northwestern could pull an upset here. They could also do so against Iowa. When the offense is so bad that a team has to put a clause in their offensive coordinator's contract demanding points, it's a bad offense. If Northwestern can score some points here, they could get their second upset in Big Ten play.
Their last major chance will come against Illinois. Illinois lost a ton of big playmakers on defense and their top offensive weapon. They rank 71st in returning production, losing key players all across the board. This is a spot that Northwestern could also pull a win, and early FPI numbers favor the Wildcats. With three conference wins potentially, they only need two of them to hit the over.
Why Northwestern Can Not Win 3.5 Games
The first question is will three non-conference wins be enough to get over the 3.5-win total. First, there is a group of games that are almost guaranteed losses, as they gave to face Ohio State and Penn State. Then, at the next level are a very high likelihood of losses. That includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Purdue. That leaves them with only Maryland, Iowa, and Illinois to grab their fourth win of the year. Maryland brings back a great offense, and there is no way Northwestern will score enough to keep up with them. Iowa is one of the best defensive units in the Big Ten and should be able to shut down any attack Northwestern puts out there. Then there is Illinois. The Illini lost most of their playmakers, and this is not even a situation where you can say they have the better coach. Still, Illinois is better on both lines, and it should be a hard-fought game.
Even if they beat Illinois, can they sweep the non-conference schedule? With Miami (OH) Keyon Mozee ran for 171 yards against Northwestern last year. He only ran for 471 yards all year long. Northwestern could not stop the running game, and that does not look like it has changed. Riley Leonard is back for another season at Duke under Mike Elko. The secondary for the team was awful last year, giving up some of the most yards per pass in the nation. If they are doing that again, a second-year starter should have a great game against them. Then, they lost to Southern Illinois last year. To say it is out of the realm of possibility to do that again is wrong. If Northwestern does not come out with two wins in the non-conference, there is no shot they hit 3.5 wins. It seems very possible they fail to do so this year.
Final Northwestern Over/Under Win Total Prediction & Pick
Pat Fitzgerald is a great coach. It is hard to coach at a program such as Northwestern, especially with the academic requirements at the school. The best chance Northwestn has to hit over 3.5 wins is to sweep the non-conference schedule. They will not best Nebraska week one again, and while they do best Duke and Southern Illinois, they will fall to Miami (OH). This means they need two conference wins the rest of the way. They might get one against Illinois, but not two. Take the under.
Final Northwestern Over/Under Win Total Prediction & Pick: Under 3.5 Wins (+104)