Northwestern Wildcats (8-4) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1)
NCAA Football: Saturday, December 1st, 2018 at 8:00 pm (Lucas Oil Stadium)
Line and Odds: Ohio State Buckeyes -14 Over/Under: 60.5
Free NCAA Football Pick Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Northwestern Wildcats
The Northwestern Wildcats are looking to win its first outright Big Ten Championship since 1995. It’s fair to call Northwestern’s Big Ten West championship a surprise. Few analysts believed that Northwestern was capable of winning their division at the beginning of the season. The skepticism continued to grow when they started the season 1-3. They lost all 3 of their non-conference games including a 39-34 home loss to Akron. However, Northwestern went on to win 7 of its next 8 games. The only loss Northwestern has had in the last 8 games was a 31-21 loss to #3 Notre Dame. This is a credit to the job head coach Pat Fitzgerald has done. 10 of their 12 games this season have been decided by 10 points or less. They have an unimpressive statistical profile. Somehow, Coach Fitzgerald has found a way to squeak out games and compete every week. Offensively, Northwestern has struggled to move the ball. The Wildcats rank 12th in the Big Ten in scoring offense, totaling 23.7 points per game. Northwestern’s offense averages 351.8 yards per game, also ranking 12th in the Big Ten. They’re 13th in the conference in terms of yards per play, gaining just 4.65 ypp. However, there are some positives for the Northwestern offense. They’ve turned the ball over just 15 times, which is 3rd-best in the conference in giveaways. The Wildcats are 6th in the conference in 3rd down percentage, and 5th in terms of red zone touchdown percentage. While the offensive numbers are poor, the Wildcats are led by their defense. The Northwestern defense gives up 21.7 points per game, ranking 5th in the Big Ten in scoring defense. They also rank 5th in terms of yards per play allowed, giving up 5.46 ypp. Northwestern is 6th in the conference in total defense, allowing 372.7 yards per game. They have registered 20 takeaways which is tied for 5th in the conference in turnovers forced. The Wildcats defense is especially stingy inside the red zone. They give up touchdowns in just 45.7% of their opponents’ trips inside the 20. That numbers ranks them 2nd in the Big Ten in opponents’ red zone touchdown percentage.
The Ohio State Buckeyes are seeking to win their 38th Big Ten Championship (including shared titles) on Saturday. It has been a season full of tumult and turmoil for the Buckeyes. In August, head coach Urban Meyer was suspended for the first 3 games of the season over his handling of a domestic violence incident centering around one of his ex-assistant coaches. Their star DE Nick Bosa suffered an injury and decided to leave the team to focus on rehab and the NFL Draft. They suffered an ugly 49-20 loss at Purdue. Ohio State followed that up with sluggish wins against sub-par Nebraska and Maryland teams. There has been speculation all season about Urban Meyer’s health and long-term future at Ohio State. Despite all of the drama in Columbus, Ohio State is 11-1 and playing for the Big Ten title. Everything changed last Saturday when they faced their hated rival. The Buckeyes beat Michigan 62-39 as 4.5 point underdogs to win the Big Ten East. Ohio State has a solid chance of getting into the playoff with a big win against Northwestern in the championship game. The Buckeyes have the best offense in the Big Ten. They rank 1st in the conference in scoring offense, total offense, and yards per play. Ohio State has averaged 43.3 points per game this season, ranking 7th in the nation. They’ve gained 543.9 yards per game which is good for 2nd in the nation. The Buckeyes’ offense produces 6.69 yards per play. Ohio State manages to convert 47.4% of their 3rd down attempts, which is 2nd in the Big Ten. On defense, the story isn’t quite as rosy. They allow 5.84 yards per play which makes them 10th in the conference. They’re 7th in scoring defense, allowing 25.8 points per game. The Buckeyes have given up 398.8 yards per game, making them 9th in the conference in total defense. However, Ohio State does have a strong 3rd down defense. The Buckeye defense allows opponents to convert just 31.18% of their 3rd down attempts. They rank 1st in the Big Ten and 10th in the country in terms of opponent 3rd down conversion percentage.
Cover The Spread 365 Betting Trends
Northwestern is 15-7-1 ATS in its last 23 games
Northwestern is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Northwestern’s last 6 games
Ohio State is 2-6 ATS in its last 8 games
Ohio State is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games when playing Northwestern
Ohio State is 16-1 SU in its last 17 games
Free NCAA Football Prediction Northwestern Wildcats vs. Ohio State Buckeyes
I like Northwestern to cover the spread in this match-up. I expect Ohio State to move the ball down the field fairly easily on the Northwestern defense. Ohio State will have a big edge in total yardage when the game is over. However, Northwestern’s defense will play strong situational football. They will create stops on key 3rd down situations. They may bend, but they will not break when Ohio State gets into the red zone. Ohio State will be forced to kick field goals in pivotal moments of the game. Northwestern’s offense will stay ahead of the chains and move the ball slowly against the Buckeye defense. The Wildcats will hold onto the football and keep Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins on the sidelines. I also expect a game-altering play from Northwestern in the form of a big turnover or special teams play. Ohio State may win, but they will not cover.