Northwestern vs. Maryland Betting Odds & Pick: Back the Under in Evanston (Oct. 24)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images. Pictured: Pat Fitzgerald.
Northwestern vs. Maryland Odds
|Northwestern Odds||-12 [BET NOW]|
|Maryland Odds||+12 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-455/+335 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||52.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
|TV||Big Ten Network|
Maryland and Northwestern will both look for improvement in their Big Ten opener.
After going 3-9 in his first season as the head coach for Maryland, Mike Locksley hopes his recruiting prowess will start to show up on the field and the team finds more success in 2020.
Pat Fitzgerald is a steady presence in the Big Ten. And with a 58.2% under percentage as the head coach, he’s also been a friend to under bettors in positive matchups. Following a disappointing 2019 season with major scoring issues, this Northwestern opener will be one of those games to target.
Both of these teams have traditionally favored a run-heavy offense, and with weather reports forecasting crosswinds up to 13 mph, this game should feature a moving clock that favors a low-scoring game.
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Northwestern returns 19 starters from a team that went 3-9 in 2019. Indiana transfer Peyton Ramsey has been named the starting quarterback over last 2019 transfer Hunter Johnson.
With nearly the entire team back, there’s reason to believe in slight improvement on both sides of the ball. However, after a limited offseason, it’s hard to trust that an offense that averaged 16.3 points per game will become a threat to score on a consistent basis.
The Wildcats ran the ball 62.9% of the time in 2019. Pat’s Cats are always run-heavy, but that number seems like an outlier, and it’s fair to assume the team will likely regress closer to their average run/pass split in 2020. Even so, Fitzgerald’s teams have averaged a 54.7% run percentage on offense during his 14-year tenure, which explains why his Wildcats average 24.5 points per game and have only topped 28 points per game three times during his tenure.
But it appears as it moving on from Johnson was the right decision. The Wildcats had a Passing Success Rate of 32.6%, and as a team, they completed just 50.1% of their pass attempts for an average of 4.5 yards per attempt.
The addition of Ramsey in the offseason welcomes in a new face with starting experience in the Big Ten. In three years at Indiana, Ramsey completed 66.5% of his passes for an average of 6.8 yards per attempt. The only question with the position is how much the expedited training camp and limited spring practice will impact him.
The Wildcats were not much better running the ball. With a Success Rate of just 34.9%, they were stuffed on 20.2% of attempts and generated 2.875 Line Yards per attempt. Isaiah Bowser is listed as the Week 1 starter after averaging 3.5 yards per carry.
Northwestern’s defense typically bailed it out last season. The Wildcats ranked 32nd nationally in Success Rate allowed with 38.1%. They stuffed 24.3% of rush attempts and held opposing offenses to 2.44 line yards per play.
And even in the midst of a 3-9 season, they held opponents to 23.6 points per game. With nearly everyone back on defense, they should remain one of the tougher defenses to score against.
The jury is still out on whether or not Locksley can be a successful head coach, although his 6-40 career record leans heavily to one side. The team is ranked 84th in overall SP+ and 99th in Offensive SP+. With only five offensive starters returning from a team that averaged 25.2 points per game, there’s plenty of reason to doubt the early-season chances for this Terrapin team.
Maryland averaged a mere 63.9 plays per game with a 35.3% Success Rate, which ranked 10th-worst in 2019. And while the Terps were slightly better rushing the ball with a 39.5% Success Rate, they lost a key member of their three-headed RB committee in Anthony McFarland Jr., who accounted for nine total offensive touchdowns.
The Terrapins return three offensive linemen, and while the stability is a positive, the line had issues last season. It allowed Havoc on 23.8% of plays — including 83 tackles for loss — and the team was stuffed on 23.6% of rush attempts.
Defensively, Maryland had significant issues in 2019, but it only returns four starters from a defense that allowed 34.7 points per game. Entering the season, the Terps rank as slightly below average at 69th in Defensive SP+.
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Betting Analysis & Pick
Against most teams in the Big Ten, Maryland’s defense would be a major liability and hurt all chances of an under play. Against a conservative and probably ineffective Northwestern offense, there’s no reason to be worried.
With the weather forcing even more rushing, the clock is going to be moving all game and helps the under even more.
Pick: Under 55 (down to 49.5)