Northwestern-Michigan Free Play

On October 6, 2015, in Free Picks, NCAAF, by Stephen

Northwestern plus 8 at Michigan

Baylor laying eight points in the pin ball Big 12 Conference is nothing. The Bears can put up two scores in less than three minutes.

But eight points in a rugged Big Ten Conference matchup of Northwestern-Michigan definitely means something. These are the two best defenses in the country.

So taking eight points with Northwestern is huge. Heck, the over/under is just 35 points.

The Wildcats are surrendering only seven points a game! They also are fifth in total defense.

Jim Harbaugh is doing a fine job with the Wolverines. But Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald is good, too. Northwestern is 5-0, including 2-0 as underdogs. The Wildcats have knocked off Stanford, Duke and shut out Minnesota last Saturday.

I’m not overly fond of Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock, who has more interceptions than touchdowns. Harbaugh relies on a ground attack that ranks 35th in the country averaging 201.4 yards. Rudock is more a game manager.

But Northwestern has a strong defensive front seven and will be keying on Michigan’s rushing game. The Wildcats rank 26th in the nation in rush defense holding foes to 117.4 yards per game on the ground. I don’t believe Rudock can make enough plays to push Michigan to more than a field goal victory – if the Wolverines even win.

This has been a real tight series. Michigan won, 10-9, last year. The teams played triple overtime two years ago. None of the past three games in the series have been decided by more than seven points during regulation.

Northwestern should be fully focused. I’m not sure I can say that about Michigan as the Wolverines host arch-rival Michigan State next week.


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