WMU vs. Northwestern Prediction
The Northwestern Wildcats could find themselves facing a potential upset on Saturday when they host Western Michigan at Noon ET.
According to oddsmakers at BetDSI, Northwestern is favored at home, as the Wildcats are getting odds of -5 points against the Broncos. The over/under total for the contest has been set at 52 points. These two last met in the 2013 season, with Northwestern getting a 38-17 win at home, while the Broncos covered a 28-point spread.
Pat Fitzgerald enters his 11th season with Northwestern and the Wildcats are coming off a 10-3 season in 2015, tied for the best record in his tenure. Northwestern had one of the top defenses in the country last season, allowing just 311 yards and 16.4 points per game. The key is now for the offense to catch up. The Wildcats were 108th in total offense in 2015, averaging just 327 yards per contest. The offensive numbers could certainly improve as Northwestern brings back running back Justin Jackson, who rushed for 1,418 yards and five scores in 2015. Also back is Clayton Thorson, who threw for 1,522 yards and seven scores while rushing for 397 yards. Thorson, a sophomore, should be able to step up the passing game while the run game continues to flourish.
Western Michigan went 8-5 last season, coming up just shy of a big in the MAC Championship. The Broncos were a bit opposite of Northwestern, as they had a tremendous offense and struggled on defense. The WMU defense gave up 411 yards and 28.1 per game last season on a MAC schedule. The Broncos were 20th offensively in 2015, putting up 36 points and 491 yards per game. Western can be real dangerous with the ball thanks to senior QB Zach Terrell, who has thrown for 8,567 yards and 63 touchdowns in his career. He has a big threat at WR as well in Corey Davis, who had 90 catches for 1,436 yards and 12 scores in 2015. Davis has 3,785 yards and 33 touchdowns in his WMU career. Also back is leading rusher Jamauri Bogan, who had 1,051 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2015.
On paper, this looks like a dangerous game for Western Michigan. However, Northwestern has a defense that should be able to limit the damage that Western Michigan will do. Don’t expect the same from the Broncos. Western has struggled to stop worse offenses and the Northwestern offense should show some improvement from a year ago with most of their skill players back. Look for the Wildcats to cover this small spread at home.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 1 PREDICTION: NORTHWESTERN -5