Wisconsin vs. Northwestern NCAAF Pick Influenced by Weather

Willie Bee

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 1:33 PM GMT

Can Wisconsin sneak into this year's playoffs? The college football odds of that happening aren't so farfetched as the Badgers prepare for this week's road game at Northwestern.

A week ago, all signs pointed to Wisconsin's trip to Evanston to meet Northwestern being a fairly easy matchup for the Badgers. After all, Wisconsin has won the past two in the series while averaging better than 52 points per game, and the Wildcats were coming off their third consecutive spread defeat after losing their first two games outright as touchdown favorites at home.

That was before Pat Fitzgerald took NW into Happy Valley last Saturday, leaving with a dominating 29-6 win as 10-point underdogs to Penn State. Not to mention, a closer look at this rivalry reveals the Wildcats have given the Badgers some trouble along the way.

ESPN2 will broadcast the suddenly-crucial Big Ten battle beginning at 3:30 PM (ET), and the Badgers are 8 point favorites after the NCAA football odds began -9½. The total has been steady at 48½ points,

Wisconsin has a solid lead in the all-time series, 57-33-5, and stands 29-16-4 away from Madison heading into the 50th clash to be played in Evanston. But the Badgers certainly remember their last matchup at Ryan Field in 2009 when the 'Cats pulled off the 33-31 upset as 7 point 'dogs, and it's Northwestern backers who have cashed five of the last nine meetings regardless of the venue. Last year's 35-6 Wisconsin victory failed to meet the total, snapping a 4-game run for the 'over.'

 

Badgers Need Strong 1st-Half To Snuff NW Upset Bid
It's hard to imagine Wisconsin being in the initial college football playoffs, but it's possible. The Badgers, No. 17 according to the writers and a notch higher in the coaches poll, have just the one loss to LSU in the season opener down in Houston, and have just one currently-ranked team remaining on their schedule, a Nov. 15 meeting at home vs. Nebraska.

Win out and then beat Michigan State or Ohio State in the conference title tilt, and Gary Andersen could take his team into the pigskin final four. With neither the Spartans nor the Buckeyes, not to mention Penn State and Michigan, left on the conference slate, it's no longer such a long shot idea.

Then again, considering Wisconsin's performance in the first half last week against South Florida, it's never going to happen. The Badgers came out very flat vs. the Bulls, a team they were favored to beat by 33, and needed a good second half just to pull off a victory by half that much, 27-10.

Melvin Gordon did have another big game running the football, adding 181 yards and two more scores to his totals. The junior out of Kenosha is fifth in the country averaging 153 yards per game on the ground, and tied for fourth with eight rushing TDs.

Compare Our Handicappers College Football Picks for Wisconsin vs. Northwestern!

Wildcat Defense Looks To Prove Itself Vs. Badgers
Fitzgerald's bunch began the season with losses to California and Northern Illinois before beating Western Illinois a couple of weeks back.  Northwestern did not only fail to cover the NCAA odds in the 24-7 win over the Leathernecks, the Wildcats didn't even score enough points to match the spread (-25.5). So there was really no reason to expect them to pull off the upset at Penn State last Saturday.

But they did, and a big reason is a defense that might be a bit underrated. Northwestern has a pretty decent front 7, led by senior linebackers Marcus Trotter and Derek Landisch plus redshirt freshman defensive end Chikwe Obasih. Add in junior safety Michael Caputo, and it's a group that should give the Badgers' No. 4 ground game (343 ypg) a stern test.

Cool and damp is the current forecast for Saturday's scrap. There's a 60% chance of rain and WNW winds in the 16-20 mph range will make that afternoon high of 53º seem much cooler.

Wisconsin has covered the last two, and three of the most recent four meetings. But I'm looking at the total and the weather for my free pick.  There have been some very low scores in this series at Ryan Field, and I'm looking for another this Saturday.

College Footbal Pick: Wisconsin-Northwestern Under 48.5 at 5Dimes

Season: 26-16-1 (+8.40)

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