Northwestern vs. Utah Bowl Prediction
After falling short in the Big Ten Championship Game, the Northwestern Wildcats will look to close out 2018 with a win but they find themselves underdogs versus the Utah Utes at 7:00 p.m. ET Saturday night. Will the ‘Cats cover in the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl?
265 Northwestern Wildcats at 266 Utah Utes
7:00 p.m. ET, Monday, December 31, 2018
SDCCU Stadium, San Diego, California
Public Betting Trends
According to oddsmakers from online sports book BetNow.eu, the Utes are 6.5-point favorites to beat the Wildcats. The total, meanwhile, sits at 44 points. As of this writing, 63% of the public betting tickets wagered on this matchup are on the Wildcats.
Northwestern redshirt senior LB Nate Hall (shoulder) will not play in the Holiday Bowl. Hall (6’2/231) underwent shoulder surgery, so he will just be on the sidelines cheering on his teammates. The linebacker spent five seasons with the program racking up 151 solo tackles, 110 assisted tackles, five sacks, and five interceptions. Hall needs to get healthy as soon as possible before the draft because he should have plus measurables at the combine. He apparently can run a 4.70 40-yard dash at 230 pounds.
Utah junior QB Tyler Huntley (collarbone) is listed at the top of the depth chart for the Holiday Bowl against Northwestern. Huntley has not played since November 3 because of the broken collarbone, but head coach Kyle Wittingham told reporters that the talented dual-threat quarterback could return for the bowl game, and it sounds like he’s doing just that. All due respect to freshman Jason Shelley, who handled himself admirably during Huntley’s absence, but Utah’s offense is much, much more formidable when Huntley is on the field. He gives the Utes the best chance of defeating Northwestern.
The Wildcats are 0-3-1 against the spread in their last four non-conference games but are 13-6-2 at the betting window in their last 21 games overall.
The Utes are 6-1 against the spread in their last seven games against Big Ten opponents and have covered the spread in four of their last five bowl games.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham has been profitable for bettors in bowl games, going 9-3 against the spread and 11-1 straight up since 2004. He also has a good track record against non-conference opponents as well. Since 2005, Whittingham is 33-22-1 at the betting window when facing non-Pac-12 rivals. Northwestern rarely beats itself. The Wildcats don’t get penalized, they keep the chains moving on offense and they’re tough to score on in the red zone. Still, Utah is a vastly better team and Northwestern will be down a few starters in its front seven. If Huntley does start for the Utes, he could need a quarter or two to shake off the rust. But I expect Utah to roll in the second half.
San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl: Utah Utes -6.5