College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions for Rutgers vs. Northwestern: Must-Win Game For Scarlet Knights

College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions for Rutgers vs. Northwestern: Must-Win Game For Scarlet Knights article feature image

Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Noah Vedral.

  • Rutgers and Northwestern are both seeking their first wins in Big Ten play this college football season.
  • The Scarlet Knights have lost three games in a row and may be without leading receiver Bo Melton again.
  • Alex Hinton previews the matchup and offers up his top pick.

Rutgers vs. Northwestern Odds

Rutgers Odds-2.5 (-115)
Northwestern Odds+2.5 (-105)
Moneyline-135 / +110
Over/Under45 (-110 / -110)
Time12 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Rutgers and Northwestern are two of the three Big Ten teams without a conference win this season.

While this is familiar territory for Rutgers, who has just seven conference wins in the last seven years, Northwestern was in the Big Ten Championship game last season.

However, it is easy to see that Rutgers is making strides in the second year of Greg Schiano's second stint with the program. It is hard to blame Rutgers for an 0-3 start when facing Michigan, Ohio State and Michigan State, all of whom are undefeated and ranked in the top 10.

Meanwhile, Northwestern also lost to Michigan State in its season opener but also has a loss to Duke on its resume. The Wildcats were also shellacked 56-7 in its most recent outing against Nebraska.

One of these programs will get off the snide on Saturday.

Rutgers vs. Northwestern Betting Preview

Saturday, Oct. 16
12 p.m. ET

Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Rutgers Offense

Rutgers will enter this week banged up on both sides of the ball.

Quarterback Noah Vedral left last week's game against Michigan State with an arm injury but will start this week. Vedral has struggled against top competition this season, but that does not describe Northwestern.

For the season, he is completing 63% of his passes with six touchdowns and three interceptions.

Leading receiver Bo Melton has missed the last two games. Vedral's No. 2 receiver Aron Cruickshank left last Saturday's game in the first half. Left tackle Raiqwon O'Neal left the Ohio State game early and was out last week. Melton, Cruisank and Neal are all questionable this week.

Northwestern's defense does not generate much pressure so even without O'Neal, the Scarlet Knights should be OK.

Without Melton and Cruisank, Shameen Jones stepped up and had eight catches for 109 yards. If they can't go, Isaiah Washington and Brandon Sanders will be thrust into bigger roles.

Rutgers Defense

Standout safety Christian Izien left last week's game with a leg injury, but it was not considered serious and he is good to go this week. Izien has 32 tackles, five tackles for loss and three passes defended this season.

Linebacker Tyreek Maddox-Williams missed the Michigan State game and is questionable this week. Rutgers has the depth to replace Maddox-Williams, but he is the Scarlet Knights' best linebacker in coverage.

Rutgers will have an advantage creating pressure against the Northwestern offensive line. The Scarlet Knights are 23rd in Havoc and 36th in pass-rush grade with 15 sacks in six games.

Northwestern Wildcats

Northwestern Offense

Northwestern has rotated Hunter Johnson, Andrew Marty and Ryan Hilinski at quarterback with little success. The Wildcats are 102nd in Passing Success Rate.

Hilinski will get the start this week, the third of his young career. For the season, he's completing 59% of his passes and averaging 5.7 yards per attempt with one touchdown pass.

The Wildcats run the ball 55% of the time and are 33rd in Rushing Success Rate. Running back Evan Hull has 509 yards on 7.3 yards per carry and four touchdowns.

Relying on its ground attack will be Northwestern's best path to success against Rutgers.

Northwestern Defense

Northwestern has been solid defending the big play this season, ranking 36th in the country. However, you would not know that by watching its game against Nebraska.

The Huskers hit explosive play after explosive play en route to racking up 56 points and 657 yards of total offense.

Nebraska racked 427 of its yards on the ground and as a result, Northwestern has plummeted to 127th in Rushing Success Rate.

The Wildcats also rank at the bottom in Havoc (117th) and in Finishing Drives (126th).

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Rutgers vs. Northwestern Matchup Analysis

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

Rutgers Offense vs. Northwestern Defense
Rush Success54102
Line Yards49115
Pass Success98104
Pass Blocking**9479
Big Play12536
Finishing Drives85108
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Northwestern Offense vs. Rutgers Defense
Rush Success3331
Line Yards3156
Pass Success10220
Pass Blocking**9566
Big Play12292
Finishing Drives8949
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling12068
Middle 89560
SP+ Special Teams76106
Plays per Minute7743
Rush Rate54.8% (65)55.% (63)

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

Rutgers vs. Northwestern Betting Pick

Rutgers and Northwestern will each point to this game on the schedule as a game it should win.

However, it's Rutgers that has looked better against better competition this season and more impressively against its inferior opponents. The injuries for the Scarlet Knight will be a factor, but Schiano has upped the depth and talent level enough to win a game like this.

Both teams will look to run the ball, however, Rutgers running back Isaih Pacheco should have a field day against this Northwestern run defense.

Northwestern will not create much Havoc defensively. In fact, Rutgers will have an advantage in Havoc on both sides of the ball, particularly on defense. Northwestern is 106th in Havoc allowed while Rutgers is 23rd.

Rutgers will also do a better job of capitalizing on its scoring opportunities.

This line opened up at a pick'em and currently favors Rutgers by two points. I'm backing the Scarlet Knights and would take it up to -3.

Pick: Rutgers -2

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