The over/under is 45 in the NCAA week 5 Northwestern at Wisconsin free pick. At first glance it seems like the Badgers could cover that number themselves the way UW has literally been running through opponents. Northwestern has a stout defense though – one that fueled their upset win over Paul Chryst’s team last season. UW is a 24 point favorite in this one, does Wisconsin exert their will in a revenge game?
Does Northwestern Have Another Answer for Taylor?
The Wildcats were +4.5 home underdogs when they hosted the Badgers to a 31-17 upset outright win on October 27th at Ryan Field. Looking at the box score, it’s pretty easy to see how Pat Fitzgerald’s team was able to pull that off – by stopping Jonathan Taylor. The Heisman candidate had just 46 yards on 11 carries in last year’s meeting.
The Modus operandi for the Wildcats in the NCAA week 5 Northwestern at Wisconsin free pick is once again stopping the Badgers running attack that is 11th in the country at 264 yards per game. Stanford ran the ball 39 times for 132 yards (3.4 ypc) in the opener against the Wildcats and Michigan State had just 112 yards on 39 carries (2.8 ypc) in last week’s 10-31 Northwestern loss. The Wildcats are allowing only 20.7 points per game which could lend an under play on Saturday.
Another reason why the ‘under’ looks like a solid play in this contest is because the Wildcats passing offense is basically nonexistent. If the Badgers run all over NW in the first quarter and get a big lead, it’s going to be nearly impossible for the Wildcats to fight back through the air. Northwestern averages just 136 yards per game through the air and are slightly better on the ground ranking 64th in the country. Isaiah Bowser had 117 yards on 34 carries vs. the Badgers last season but has been battling a knee injury this year.
Badgers Try to Avoid a Letdown
Wisconsin looked like one of the more dominant teams in college football last week as they bowled over Michigan 35-14. Jonathan Taylor was his usual dominant self with 23 carries for 203 yards and 2 TD vs. a tough Michigan defense. It was the play of Jr. QB Jack Coan that really has Badger fans optimistic for big things this season though as he went 13/16 passing and also had 2 rushing TDs.
Lost in the Heisman hype surrounding Taylor and Wisconsin’s ascension into the Top 10 is the fact that the 14 points Michigan scored were the first points given up by the Badgers defense this season. Michigan’s 14 points also came after the Badgers eased off the gas with a 35-0 lead as well. That doesn’t bode well for the Wildcats in the NCAA week 5 Northwestern at Wisconsin free pick. Northwestern is averaging just 15.7 ppg on the season.
Of course Wisconsin has to avoid a letdown on Saturday after such a big win over the Wolverines last week. Losing to Northwestern a year ago which destroyed UW’s Big Ten West title hopes should help with the Badgers’ motivation. Total bettors just have to know if, and what, the Wildcats can contribute to the ‘over’ in this one.
NCAA Week 5 Northwestern at Wisconsin Free Pick
The Wildcats were able to put 31 points on the board vs. Wisconsin last season a) because they were at home and b) they had an experienced starter in Clayton Thorson at QB. Fitzgerald’s team has neither of those going for them in the 2019 matchup. Hunter Johnson was yanked at the half last week vs. Michigan State and backup QB Aidan Smith threw 2 INTs in reserve. The Wisconsin defense will dominate again, hopefully their offense doesn’t hit the total by themselves.
Pick: Northwestern / Wisconsin *Under* 45