College Football Picks, Odds for Ohio vs. Northwestern: The Bet to Make on Saturday’s Over/Under (Sept. 25)

College Football Picks, Odds for Ohio vs. Northwestern: The Bet to Make on Saturday’s Over/Under (Sept. 25) article feature image
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  • The Ohio Bobcats travel to Evanston on Saturday to take on the Northwestern Wildcats in college football action.
  • Both teams have struggled up to this point, making Saturday's game an important "get right" opportunity.
  • Matt Wispe breaks down the game below and shares a betting pick and prediction based on his analysis.

Ohio vs. Northwestern Odds

Ohio Odds +14
Northwestern Odds -14
Moneyline +475 / -675
Over/Under 47.5
Time 12 p.m. ET
TV Big Ten Network
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Both Ohio and Northwestern enter this game coming off of road losses.

In the case of Ohio, it was a one-sided affair to Louisiana, whereas Northwestern lost a one-score game to Duke.

Losing coach Frank Solich a mere weeks before the start of the year has had an impact on the Bobcats thus far. They’ve lost all three games, including one to FCS Duquesne.

Northwestern enters this game at 1-2, with its only win coming against FCS Indiana State. Coming off of a Big Ten Championship game appearance, the Wildcats find themselves climbing out of an early hole to be bowl eligible.

This game will feature consistent winds above 10 mph with quarterbacks that have already proven to be sub-par.


Ohio vs. Northwestern Betting Preview

Saturday, Sept. 25
12 p.m. ET
Big Ten Network

Ohio Bobcats

Ohio Offense

The Bobcats are averaging just 16.3 points per game and 5.5 yards per play on offense this year.

They rank in the bottom 30 for pace at 28.3 seconds per play, while averaging just 54.7 offensive plays per game. Their 41.4% overall Success Rate ranks 83rd.

Arguably the two biggest concerns with this offense have been below average efforts in Finishing Drives — 3.5 points per opportunity — and Havoc Allowed, which has reared its head on 21.2% of plays.

Kurtis Rourke is the centerpiece of the offense and has accounted for 52% of the team’s total offense. He’s completing 65.2% of his passes but averages only 6.0 yards per attempt.

With that in mind, it’s not overly surprising that Ohio ranks 102nd in passes over 20 yards with just 2.33 per game.

Even as the coaches rely on Rourke, Ohio only has a Passing Success Rate of 34%, which ranks 22nd worst in the country.

The running back duo of O’Shaan Allison and De’Montre Tuggle have split the workload with a combined 284 rushing yards while averaging 4.73 yards per carry. As a unit, the Bobcats running game has been significantly more successful with a Rushing Success Rate of 47.9%. 

The offensive line has performed well, allowing a Stuff Rate of 14.6% while generating 3.76 Line Yards per attempt.


Ohio Defense

The Bobcats have allowed 35.3 points per game and 5.9 yards per play.

Opponents have found success Finishing Drives with 4.36 points per opportunity. They’ve allowed a Defensive Success Rate of 50.6% and have only created Havoc on 12.3% of plays.

The biggest positive for this defense is that it’s generally contained explosive plays with only 11 plays over 20 yards in three games.

The rush defense has been a particular struggle. It’s allowed a Rushing Success Rate of 54.3%. The line has allowed 3.775 Line Yards per attempt and has stuffed only 10.9% of rush attempts, allowing an average of 5.6 yards per rush.

The pass defense has been better than the run defense but is still well below average. Ohio has allowed a Passing Success Rate of 45.7% and has allowed 6.3 yards per attempt. The team has only forced one interception, though.

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Northwestern Wildcats

Northwestern Offense

Pat Fitzgerald’s Cats have played at an above-average pace through three games, averaging 25.15 seconds per play and 71.3 offensive plays per game.

They boast an overall Success Rate of 42.7% and have struggled to finish drives with just 3.45 points per opportunity. They’ve also allowed Havoc on 19.7% of plays.

A big moment in the season came when Hunter Johnson was benched against Duke in favor of redshirt senior Andrew Marty.

Marty completed 68.8% of his passes while averaging 9.8 yards per attempt. But despite his extended time with the program, Marty has attempted only 38 career passes, including 16 last week. He also suffered an upper-body injury but is expected to start against Ohio.

If Johnson is the starter, the immediate concern is his propensity for turnovers with a 7:9 career touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Overall, the Wildcats have a 34% Passing Success Rate.

Despite losing Cam Porter before the season, the Wildcats have still leaned on the running game. They have a rushing success rate of 51.4%.

Evan Hull and Anthony Tyus III have led the team in rushing with 379 yards, with a 5.8 yards per carry average.

They’ve found success in large part because of an offensive line that has created 3.28 Lines Yards per attempt and has only allowed a Stuff Rate of 11%.


Northwestern Defense

In recent years, Northwestern has been a defensively focused team. Through three games, the defense remains a strength, however, the unit is still performing below average.

The Wildcats allow 24.7 points per game and 5.8 yards per play. They’ve allowed a Success Rate of 40.8%. Teams have found success in Finishing Drives, owning an average of 4.0 points per opportunity.

One of the major concerns is their lack of Havoc. They’re creating Havoc on just 15.5% of plays.

The rush defense remains strong, which will come in handy against an Ohio offense that has averaged 28 rush attempts per game. They’ve allowed a 37.5% Rushing Success Rate, but they’re allowing two long runs per game, which is the 13th worst in the country.

Northwestern has stuffed 18.3% of rush attempts, but its line has allowed 3.05 Line Yards per attempt.

The passing defense has allowed a Passing Success Rate of 44.4%. The Cats allowed 6.4 yards per pass attempt and have allowed opponents to complete 65.1% of their passes. They’ve allowed just 2.33 passes over 20 yards per game, which ranks 32nd in the country.


Ohio vs. Northwestern Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Ohio and Northwestern match up statistically:

Ohio Offense vs. Northwestern Defense

Offense

Defense

Edge

Rush Success 46 43
Line Yards 10 77
Pass Success 109 88
Pass Blocking** 80 71
Big Play 92 89
Havoc 31 92
Finishing Drives 95 82
**Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Northwestern Offense vs. Ohio Defense

Offense

Defense

Edge

Rush Success 29 124
Line Yards 44 126
Pass Success 109 99
Pass Blocking** 88 126
Big Play 77 94
Havoc 109 127
Finishing Drives 98 106
**Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 106 58
PFF Coverage 56 58
Middle 8 75 22
SP+ Special Teams 125 104
Plays per Minute 98 46
Rush Rate 51.2% (84) 54.2% (67)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.


Northwestern holds edges on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball and both of these teams lean in favor of the running game.

With both of these teams lacking explosive plays, quick scores are unlikely to happen for either side.


Ohio vs. Northwestern Betting Pick

Fitzgerald’s Wildcats have been the epitome of Big Ten football and the kings of the ugly win.

Over the course of his tenure, unders have been 107-75-7.

With the weather conditions in mind and the general struggles of these two offenses, I’m expecting a low-scoring game where neither team gets to 30.

I don’t feel as confident with a particular side, but I’d lean in favor of the Bobcats because of the low total.

Pick: Under 47 or better

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