Big Ten Week 5 Overview: Northwestern Aims to Solve Michigan D

Monday, September 24, 2018 1:51 PM UTC

Monday, Sep. 24, 2018 1:51 PM UTC

Northwestern received more than a week to prep for Michigan, but the extra time might not be enough to threaten the Wolverines. Let's look at that matchup and the other Big Ten Week 5 action.

Big Ten Spotlight: No. 14 Michigan (-13) at NorthwesternSaturday, 4:30 p.m. ET (FOX)Free NCAAF Pick: Michigan ATSBest Line Offered: Bovada

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Michigan (3-1 SU, 2-2 ATS) is coming off a dominating 56-10 win over Nebraska. The defense is proving one of the sternest in the Big Ten, holding the Cornhuskers to 52 yards of offense until deep into the fourth quarter before yielding an 80-yard touchdown on the final series with primarily backups staffing the turf. The unit generated 14 tackles for a loss and forced nine punts — not too shabby against a conference opponent. Check out this highlights reel:

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The Michigan defense was stout all day on Saturday, allowing just 132 yards of total offense -- 71 of which came in the fourth quarter after the game was already out of reach.

Your top defensive plays of Michigan vs. Nebraska. #GoBlue pic.twitter.com/vnGaI9YjhN

— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) September 23, 2018
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Northwestern (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS) is passing the ball more than usual under head coach Pat Fitzgerald, averaging 50.3 attempts per game to begin 2018. Coming off a bye week, it has plenty of time to find a way to unravel the merciless Wolverines secondary.

Fitzgerald, however, hasn’t taken advantage of added preparation in the past. When coming off more than a week’s rest during the regular season, and playing at home, the Wildcats are 2-5 SU and 1-6 ATS, failing to cover a -2.0 average line by 7.41 points per game.

Fitzgerald is the king of upsets, rallying for 30 underdog wins in his tenure. This is the most of any FBS program since 2006. The results have not been as kind when hosting ranked opponents, however. The Wildcats are 5-14 SU and ATS in this situation, coming up 5.2 points shy of a 8.5 average line. Fitz’s men post 17.9 points per game. This will not be enough versus a buoyant Michigan team forecasted to threaten 30 points. Wolverines ATS is the pick.

Around the Big Ten (All Games Saturday)

Central Michigan at No. 21 Michigan State (-28), noon ET, on FS1: Michigan State (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) has beaten Central Michigan, Western Michigan, or Eastern Michigan by more than 20 points once in the last six matchups, despite kicking off a -25.7 average favorite.

Indiana (-14) at Rutgers, noon ET, on BTN: Since 2007, Rutgers (1-3 SU, 1-3 ATS) is 8-17-1 ATS (32.0 percent) when falling to the number by more than 17 points last time out. MAC opponent Buffalo routed the Scarlet Knights 42-13 as 6-point chalk on Saturday. Indiana (3-1 SU, 1-3 ATS), on the other hand, is only 4-9 SU and 3-10 ATS on the road against conference rivals when tallying more wins than its opponent did the prior season. Our advice: stay far away from these two inconsistent programs.

Purdue (-3.5) at Nebraska, 3:30 p.m. ET, on BTN: Great Scott! Nebraska (0-3 SU, 0-3 ATS) is hoping to avoid just its second four-game losing streak in a season since 1980. Opponents are outscoring the Cornhuskers 96-36 through the last 10 quarters. Purdue (1-3 SU, 2-2 ATS), a road B1G favorite for just the second time since 2012, went off a 22- and 24-point underdog in its last two visits (2014, 2016) to Memorial Stadium.

No. 4 Ohio State (-3.5) at No. 9 Penn State, 7:30 p.m. ET, on ABC: Since 1994, home underdogs in top-10 ranked matchups are 27-15 ATS (64 percent). Past results suggest the much-anticipated Ohio State (4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS)-Penn State (4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS) clash is virtually a coin flip. When the line is under a touchdown in the aforementioned scenario, the home pup is 11-11 SU and 12-10 ATS with a 3.5 average line.

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