Northwestern Wildcats (8-5) vs. Utah Utes (9-4)
December 31, 2018 7:00 PM ET (SDCCU Stadium)
Line: Northwestern Wildcats +225 Utah Utes -265
Spread: Utah Utes -7
Free NCAA Football Pick Northwestern Wildcats vs. Utah Utes
The Northwestern Wildcats could potentially be going through changes as head coach Pat Fitzgerald is rumored to be a candidate for the Green Bay Packers coaching job. Northwestern are coming off of a loss in the Big Ten championship game 45-24 to Ohio State after they won the Big Ten West. Northwestern has a pass heavy offense lead by Clayton Thorson who is only 58 yards short of breaking the 3,000-yard mark for the season but has thrown 14 interceptions in his senior season. The Wildcats are scoring just 23.7 points per game which is 106thof 130 teams in the nation. Northwestern will be without their fifth leading tackler as well as their team leader in interceptions in Nate Hall who has a shoulder injury.
The Utah Utes are winners of the Pac 12 South division and was held to just 3 points as they lost 10-3 to Washington in the Pac 12 title game that loss snapped a three-game winning streak. Utah will be looking to replace their offensive coordinator as Troy Taylor will be taking over as the Sacramento State head coaching job. Utah will also be replacing Gary Andersen who is taking over as head coach for his second stint at Utah State. Utah look to have Tyler Huntley as he has been upgraded to probable but they could Jason Shelley may get the start but head coach Kyle Whittingham will not name a starter before the game. Shelley has been 3-1 as a starter but struggled last game out going 17-27 for 137 yards but threw three interceptions against Washington. Huntley has been great as he has completed 64.1% of his passes and has thrown for 1,788 yards in his 9 starts this season.
Cover the Spread 365 Trends
Northwestern is 7-2 SU in its last 9 games
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Northwestern’s last 7 games
Utah is 6-3 ATS in its last 9 games
Utah is 7-2 SU in its last 9 games
Free NCAA Football Prediction Northwestern Wildcats vs. Utah Utes
Both of these teams captured their divisions but lost in their conference title games and missed out on a Rose Bowl invitation. Utah enter this game as a touchdown favorite and look to have a bit of a home-field advantage as this game is in San Diego. Kyle Whittingham also is coming in having won 11 of his 12 bowl games while Pat Fitzgerald is just 3-5 in bowl games in his head coaching career. Utah is the rightful favorite and their defense should force Thorson into some turnovers and hold this Northwestern team to a low point total. Utah has one of the best defenses in the country and should be able to have one of their quarterbacks have the hot hand with Hundley most likely to get the majority of the snaps. Northwestern will hope to make this a low scoring game and need Thorson to have a career day in what will be his final game if they hope to pull an upset.