Northwestern vs. Maryland Odds & Picks: How to Bet Big Ten Battle
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Roman Hemby (Maryland)
Northwestern vs. Maryland Odds
Since appearing in the Big Ten title game two years ago, Northwestern has struggled through the last two seasons and is still looking to get back to that level.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, that hasn't been the case this year, as they are now 1-5 after winning their season opener. The Northwestern offense and defense have both been abysmal this season, leaving little room for hope.
Maryland, on the other hand, has been a pleasant surprise, as it's sitting just one win shy of bowl eligibility in October.
An injury to quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa has suppressed this line and has provided a great betting opportunity for this weekend.
Things have not gone well for Northwestern for much of the season. This offense ranks 104th in Success Rate and 111th in SP+.
Since its win in the season opener in Ireland, Northwestern has gone under its team total in every game.
Ryan Hilinski has not been the answer at quarterback. Hilinski is averaging -0.07 EPA per drop back and has just four touchdowns to his 10 interceptions.
As a team, Northwestern ranks 123rd in the country by PFF Passing Grade.
As our own Colin Wilson pointed out this week, Northwestern is at an extreme disadvantage in this game when it comes to Finishing Drives.
Northwestern is 117th in Offensive Finishing Drives, while the Maryland defense has been strong in the same situations, ranking as the 22nd-best defense in Finishing Drives.
This mismatch will likely make it hard for Northwestern to find the end zone much on Saturday.
Northwestern’s defense does not match up well against this passing attack. Maryland has one of the highest passing grades in the country, while Northwestern ranks 130th in PFF Coverage Grade.
The defense as a whole ranks 111th in Defensive Success Rate and is 113th against the pass.
The Wildcats’ defense is probably not as bad as it has performed so far this season, but the secondary does possess a glaring mismatch that Maryland has the ability to take advantage of.
The major question this weekend around the Maryland offense will be around the health of Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa has been impressive this season, averaging 0.20 EPA per play. However, the star quarterback is considered a game-time decision after leaving last week’s matchup on a cart.
This injury was not as severe as initially feared. Head coach Mike Locksley says that a previous injury of a sprained MCL was re-aggravated and there is a chance that he could play this week.
Even if Tagovailoa is not able to go, this Maryland offense should still be okay. Billy Edwards Jr. came in and finished off the game last weekend with a game-winning drive to defeat Indiana. The redshirt freshman has seen limited action in four games this season after transferring from Wake Forest.
Maryland ranks 34th in the country in Offensive Success Rate and has been strong both through the air and on the ground. SP+ ranks this as the No. 18 offense in the country as well, which would be third-best in the Big Ten.
The Terrapins have the second-highest PFF Passing Grade in the country (89.9) and are 21st in Rushing Grade (85.9). Roman Hemby is the star of the rushing attack, averaging 0.15 EPA per rush.
The potential loss of Tagovailoa may hamper this offense a bit, especially at the start of the game. However, against a poor Northwestern defense, I think that the Terrapins should be able to get by without him.
This season, the Maryland defense has been strong overall, ranking 31st in Defensive Success Rate. However, the Terps have faced some weaker offenses, and because of that, they check in at 51st in SP+.
As pointed out above, Maryland’s defense has been great at keeping teams out of the end zone, as it ranks 22nd in Finishing Drives.
This defense isn’t a shutdown unit, but it will be good enough to keep a bad Northwestern offense in check.
Northwestern vs. Maryland Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Northwestern and Maryland match up statistically:
Northwestern Offense vs. Maryland Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Maryland Offense vs. Northwestern Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||126||6|
|Seconds per Play||22.0 (10)||26.5 (70)|
|Rush Rate||44.5% (116)||47.3% (103)|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Northwestern vs. Maryland Betting Pick
The potential absence of Tagovailoa looms large over this game, but that is already priced in. SP+ does not account for injuries and is usually within a couple points of the spread.
In this case, it is off in a massive way, likely due to the Tagovailoa injury. SP+ would have Maryland as a 24-point favorite here, which is a pretty large difference from the market line.
Maryland covered four games in a row at one point this season, but it has gone 0-2 ATS in its last two games. I think that the Terps will be able to break this streak and pick up an easy conference win.
Northwestern is at a severe disadvantage in almost every facet, and this line is simply too low. I like Maryland to cover the 13.5 points that it's giving right now at some books, and I would love it even more if the line moves further down once Tagovailoa is ruled out.
For right now, I will take this up to 16.5, and I will likely add to the position if the line moves toward Northwestern due to injury news.