Hot College Football Picks for Cold Northwestern vs. Wisconsin Clash

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, November 18, 2015 4:23 PM UTC

Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015 4:23 PM UTC

Wisconsin still has a chance at returning to the Big Ten Championship Game, but it needs a win over Northwestern on Saturday. Review the college football odds with us here. 

Wildcats Eyeing Better Bowl
Really the only thing that Northwestern (8-2, 4-2) has to play for is a better bowl slot in the Big Ten's pecking order. The Wildcats theoretically could tie Iowa for the Big Ten West Division crown if NU wins this game and next vs. Illinois in Chicago, and the Hawkeyes are stunned at home by Purdue on Saturday and then lose next week at Nebraska. But Iowa holds the head-to-head tiebreaker.

The No. 20 Wildcats beat Purdue 21-14 last Saturday in perhaps a trap game in their final home game of the season. Justin Jackson rushed for 119 yards and the game-winning 2-yard touchdown with 4:37 left in the game. Warren Long added two rushing touchdowns as NU piled up 250 yards on the ground. QB Clayton Thorson was just 9-for-19 for 82 yards with an interception and rushed for 48 yards. He was pulled after a third-quarter interception for a couple of series and replaced by Zack Oliver. Thorson should start this one, however. Coach Pat Fitzgerald wants him to be more consistent.

"Just take what the defense gives him, and just be consistent in the passing game. Obviously what he's doing with his legs is outstanding and giving us a chance to win football games, but just be consistent across the board," Fitzgerald said.

Jackson passed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the second consecutive season in the win. He currently has 1,033 in 2015. He gained 1,187 last year. With 2,220 yards, Jackson ranks eighth in Wildcat career rushing yards, passing Kain Colter (2,180 yards from 2010-13).

NU's defensive star is sophomore linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. He had 14 tackles vs. Purdue, his third straight game with at least 10 tackles. Walker is nine tackles shy of 100 on the season and has racked up a team-high 15.5 tackles for loss, tying the ninth-best mark in NU single-season history.

Northwestern is 6-4 against the spread on college football odds and 4-6 'over/under.'


Senior Day In Madison
No. 21 Wisconsin (8-2, 5-1) is a game behind Iowa in the Big Ten West, so UW needs two wins for itself and two Hawkeyes losses to win the West because Iowa also holds the tiebreaker vs. the Badgers. Wisconsin closes the regular season at Illinois next week so this is Senior Day in Madison.

The Badgers enter off their bye week and on a five-game winning streak since a 10-6 loss to Iowa. Wisconsin leads the nation in scoring defense, allowing 12.3 points per game. Since giving up 35 points to Alabama in their season-opening loss, the Badgers have surrendered an average of just 9.8 points per game. They have allowed a total of three touchdowns in six home games this season and are allowing an average of 5.0 points per game at Camp Randall. So you can see why the total is so low here.

Wisconsin running back Corey Clement might play Saturday. He has been dealing with football-related injuries all season, playing in only two games. And then he was injured -- cut hand --  in an off-campus incident during the bye week. Clement played sparingly in the season opener and then underwent sports hernia surgery in late September but returned for Wisconsin's 48-10 victory over Rutgers on Oct. 31. He hasn't played since. Without Clement, a Heisman candidate in the preseason, the Badgers rank  just 89th nationally in rushing yards at 154.6 per game. They ranked in the Top 15 nationally in rushing offense every season from 2008-14.

This is just the fourth time since 1999 that Camp Randall Stadium will host a matchup of ranked teams in November; UW won the previous three. It's the first time Badgers and Wildcats have faced off as ranked foes since 1995.

UW is 4-6 ATS on college football picks and 4-6 O/U.


Last Meeting
Wisconsin visited Evanston in the Big Ten opener last year, and the Wildcats won in an upset 20-14 -- that would be the Badgers' only conference loss until getting wiped out by Ohio State in the Big Ten title game. Jackson rushed for 162 yards for Northwestern and Godwin Igwebuike had three interceptions. Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, last year's Heisman runner-up, had 259 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries, but Badgers QBs Tanner McEvoy and Joel Stave combined for just 138 yards on 12-for-29 passing and four interceptions (three by Stave, the current starter). Wisconsin had scored at least 20 points in 17 consecutive games entering that matchup for the second-longest such streak in school history. Wisconsin has won four consecutive meetings with the Wildcats in Madison, with Northwestern’s last win at Camp Randall Stadium coming in double overtime in 2000. NU has won four straight over the Badgers in Evanston.

Free College Football Picks: Give the points and go 'under' for sure at BetOnline -- it's going to be quite cold in Madison. NU is 7-15 ATS in its past 12 vs. teams with a winning record. Wisconsin is 14-2 ATS in its past 16 following a bye week. The home team has covered 11 of the past 12 meetings. The 'under' is 5-2 in NU's past seven after a win. The 'under' is 6-2 in UW's past eight overall. 

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