Wisconsin vs. Northwestern Odds, Picks & Predictions: Saturday College Football Betting Preview

Wisconsin vs. Northwestern Odds, Picks & Predictions: Saturday College Football Betting Preview article feature image

John Fisher/Getty Images. Pictured: Wisconsin running back Braelon Allen.

Wisconsin vs. Northwestern Odds

Saturday, Oct. 8
3:30 p.m. ET
Big Ten Network
Wisconsin Odds
-110o / -110u
Northwestern Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Wisconsin begins a new era Saturday when they heads to Evanston to take on Northwestern in a Big Ten West clash.

After an embarrassing loss at home to Illinois last Saturday, Wisconsin decided to fire head coach Paul Chryst, who won over 70% of his games during his time in Madison.

The Badgers have now fallen to 2-3, and their prospects of winning the Big Ten West title have become slim. They need to win this game to have any hope of returning to Indianapolis for the first time since 2019.

After beating Nebraska in Ireland, Northwestern has yet to win a game in the United States this season — and two of its losses have come at home to Miami (Ohio) and Southern Illinois.

The Wildcats didn't have much hope coming into the season, and that little bit of hope has continued to drop as the losses add up.

Wisconsin Badgers

Badgers Offense

Chryst served as the offensive play-caller for Wisconsin and was extremely run-heavy and conservative. Wisconsin ran the ball on 64% of offensive plays in 2021 and 56.8% of plays this season.

Bobby Engram is in his first season as the offensive coordinator after spending a number of years in the NFL as a wide receivers and tight ends coach. So, naturally, he tends to favor the passing game, which is why Wisconsin has started to become less one-dimensional.

Despite what you may think, Graham Mertz has actually been a better passer this season than he was in 2021.

Through five games, Mertz has a PFF passing grade of 83.2, is averaging 8.7 yards per attempt and has 12 big-time throws compared to only three turnover-worthy plays.

Image via PFF

Mertz also has one of the best running backs in the country to take the pressure off of him in Braelon Allen, who is an absolute star in the making.

He's not having as good of a season as he did in 2021, but he's still averaging 6.0 yards per carry behind an offensive line that ranks 18th in run blocking, per PFF.


Braelon Allen is different 👏pic.twitter.com/FXAvn0i73a

— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) September 4, 2022

Badgers Defense

Wisconsin's defense has had a lot of issues this season. The Badgers were one of the best in college football in 2021, but allowing 5.5 yards per play (63rd in FBS) and ranking 80th in Finishing Drives allowed is a very concerning start for 2022.

Wisconsin has really struggled to stop the run. Ohio State ran for 6.0 yards per carry against it two weeks ago, and the Badgers are now 75th in Rushing Success Rate Allowed.

The secondary has been much worse this season, allowing 7.1 yards per attempt. In 2021, though, it allowed only 6.5 yards per attempt as one of the best units in the nation.

The main problem is that Wisconsin is giving up way too many explosive plays. The Badgers rank 107th in passing explosiveness allowed and 124th in terms of a tackling grade, per PFF.

So, even Northwestern may be able to break off a few big plays.

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Northwestern Wildcats

Wildcats Offense

The Northwestern offense has been bad this season. The Wildcats rank 108th in Success Rate, 83rd in EPA/Play and 111th in Finishing Drives.

Ryan Hilinski has been really bad at quarterback this season, averaging only 6.4 yards per attempt with three big-time throws and 12 turnover-worthy plays. That's not good when Northwestern is throwing the ball on 54.7% of its offensive plays.

The rushing attack has not been much better, averaging only 3.1 yards per attempt while ranking 123rd in Rushing Success Rate and 125th in Offensive Line Yards.

However, they may be able to move the ball against a below-average Wisconsin defense.

Wildcats Defense

Just like the Badgers, the Wildcats have been a below-average defense this season despite giving up only 17 points to Penn State last weekend.

Northwestern allows 5.6 yards per play and ranks 70th in Success Rate Allowed and 52nd in EPA/Play.

The front seven has been the strength of the defense, but it's still below average. Northwestern ranks outside the top 60 in Rushing Success Rate Allowed, EPA/Rush Allowed and Defensive Line Yards. So, it's going to be a long afternoon trying to stop Allen.

The secondary has been the weakness of Northwestern's defense. The Wildcats have been better the last two weeks facing a backup quarterback from Miami (Ohio) and Sean Clifford from Penn State. But against Nebraska and Duke earlier this season, the Wildcats allowed over 8.0 yards per attempt.

Their secondary ranks 115th in coverage, per PFF, and 79th in Passing Success Rate Allowed.

Wisconsin vs. Northwestern Matchup Analysis

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

Wisconsin Offense vs. Northwestern Defense
Rush Success6666
Line Yards10762
Pass Success6879
Pass Blocking**3236
Finishing Drives242
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Northwestern Offense vs. Wisconsin Defense
Rush Success12375
Line Yards12561
Pass Success5969
Pass Blocking**2242
Finishing Drives11180
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling12458
PFF Coverage63115
SP+ Special Teams70126
Seconds per Play29.7 (125)21.9 (10)
Rush Rate60.6% (20)45.3% (110)
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

Wisconsin vs. Northwestern Betting Pick

The Badgers are playing a touch faster this season at 27.89 seconds per play after playing as one of the nation's slowest teams at 29.82 seconds per play in 2021.

Northwestern, meanwhile, is playing at one of the fastest paces in the country, running a play every 22.24 seconds, which is the 13th-fastest mark in college football.

So, given how much both of these defenses have struggled, I think this total is a tad too low.

I have 56.8 points projected for this game, so I like the value on over 44.

Pick: Over 44

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