Notre Dame just suffered a defeat that eliminated it from national championship contention; Northwestern is one of the bigger disappointments of this college football season. So it's two teams trying to pick up the pieces meeting when the 7-2 Irish host the 3-6 Wildcats Saturday afternoon in South Bend.
Wildcats-Irish Betting Odds
Most College Football Odds opened Notre Dame at -16.5 over Northwestern, with a total of 49; as of Tuesday the total had held steady, but the Irish have been bumped to -18.
Those bettors out there who think the Wildcats might pull the upset could get +635 on the moneyline at Bet Online.
Wildcats-Irish: The Situation
With only 12 starters back from last season Notre Dame began this season as a 50/1 shot to win the national championship, with a wins OVER/UNDER of 7.5. After last week's loss at Arizona State, their second defeat of the season, the Irish will not be invited to the college football championship playoff, but they can play OVER their wins total with one more victory.
Notre Dame began this season with six straight wins, over the likes of Rice, Michigan, Purdue, Syracuse and North Carolina. The Golden Domers' best victory was a 17-14 decision over Stanford in which they outgained the Cardinal 370-205. Notre Dame then lost at Florida State 31-27 when a game-winning touchdown in the final moments was nullified by an iffy offensive pass interference call. The Irish outgained the Seminoles 470-323 and outrushed them 157-50, and covered the spread as nine-point road dogs.
Notre Dame then beat Navy 49-39 but couldn't cover as 14-point favorites. And last week the Irish lost at Arizona State 55-31, giving away the cover as three-point underdogs. Notre Dame fell behind the Sun Devils 34-3, rallied to get within 34-31 with six minutes to go in the game, but ran out of gas.
Irish QB Everett Golson committed five turnovers, two of which were returned for ASU touchdowns.
In the end Notre Dame had outgained Arizona State 487-412.
For the season the Irish have outgained seven of nine opponents, and outrushed six of nine foes.
On the other side of this match-up Northwestern, with 17 starters back from last season, thought it had a chance to contend in the Big Ten's West Division this season. The Wildcats went off as a 33/1 shot to win the Big Ten championship, with a wins O/U of 7.5. But at 3-6 SU, 3-6 ATS and just 2-4 in conference play the 'Cats won't win the Big Ten, and with just three games left on the schedule they won't go OVER their total.
Northwestern opened this season with back-to-back home losses to Cal and Northern Illinois, then won three in a row, including a 29-6 victory at Penn State and a 20-14 upset of Wisconsin. But the 'Cats have lost their last four games in a row, to Minnesota 24-17, Nebraska 38-17, Iowa 48-7 and, last week, to Michigan 10-9.
The Wildcats scored a touchdown with three seconds to go against the Wolverines, pulling to within one point, and decided to go for two and the win, but failed when quarterback Trevor Siemian slipped and fell trying to roll out.
Northwestern only managed 264 yards of offense last week, but held Michigan to 256 yards.
On the season the Wildcats have been outgained and outrushed in six of nine games.
Wildcats-Irish Recent History
These two programs used to meet quite regularly, from the 1920s into the 1970s, but Saturday will be the first meeting since 1995, when, as 27-point underdogs, the Wildcats went into Notre Dame Stadium and came away with a 17-15 victory. Northwestern went on to win the Big Ten and play in the Rose Bowl that season.
Wildcats-Irish Betting Trends
Notre Dame is 17-3 SU and 11-8-1 ATS in games Golson has started.
Northwestern is 2-7 on the totals this season, as 'Cats games have averaged just 40 points.
The Irish are 4-5 on the totals, even though their games have averaged 60 points.
Wildcats-Irish Free Pick
Notre Dame owns a solid edge on offense in this match-up, and a smaller edge on defense. If the Irish can just limit the mistakes, namely the Golson turnovers, they should be alright. So while we don't normally like to go with the flow, we like the Golden Domers as our College Football Pick to win and cover in this spot.
Free College Football Pick: Notre Dame -17.5 at Pinnacle