Two of the nation's top defenses square off on Saturday when the 10th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers take on the No. 19 Northwestern Wildcats in a key Big Ten Conference West Division matchup. Wisconsin (2-0) enters the game with the top-rated defense in the nation, allowing 218.5 yards per game and 9.0 points. Northwestern (4-0), meanwhile, is ranked 10th nationally, allowing 301.8 yards and 14.0 points per game. The Badgers defeated the Wildcats 24-15 last year in Madison, Wis.
The game from Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill., is slated to start at 3:30 p.m. ET. Neither team is allowing opposing offenses to run the football very well. Wisconsin is sixth nationally, allowing 89 yards rushing per game, while Northwestern is eighth, allowing 91.8. The Badgers are 7.5-point favorites in the latest Wisconsin vs. Northwestern odds from William Hill, while the over-under for total points scored is 44. Before making any Northwestern vs. Wisconsin picks, check out the college football predictions from the SportsLine Projection Model.
The model simulates every FBS college football game 10,000 times. Over the past four-plus years, the proprietary computer model has generated a stunning profit of almost $3,900 for $100 players on its top-rated college football picks against the spread. It is a sizzling 39-21 on top-rated picks through 11 weeks of the 2020 college football season, returning over $1,000 in profit already. Anyone who has followed it has seen huge returns.
Now, the model has set its sights on Wisconsin vs. Northwestern. You can visit SportsLine now to see the picks. Here are the college football odds from William Hill Sportsbook and trends for Northwestern vs. Wisconsin:
- Wisconsin vs. Northwestern spread: Wisconsin -7.5
- Wisconsin vs. Northwestern over-under: 44 points
- Wisconsin vs. Northwestern money line: Wisconsin -300, Northwestern +240
- WIS: Is 54-16 (.771) under sixth-year coach Paul Chryst
- NW: Has forced at least two turnovers in four consecutive games
Why Wisconsin can cover
Redshirt quarterback Graham Mertz has been on fire to start his collegiate career, completing 32 of 43 passes (74.4 percent) for 375 yards and seven touchdowns. He has not thrown an interception and has a rating of 201.4, fifth-best in the nation. In the season opener against Illinois, he completed 20 of 21 passes for 248 yards and five touchdowns. Mertz, the first freshman in 42 years to start a season opener for Wisconsin, owns the nation's top pass efficiency rating in the red zone (367.7), going 8-for-9 for 63 yards and six touchdowns.
Sophomore running back Nakia Watson leads the Badgers' ground game. He is the team's top returning rusher after carrying 74 times for 337 yards and two touchdowns last year. So far in 2020, Watson has rushed for a team-high 135 yards and two scores. He also had 35 receptions for 463 yards and six touchdowns.
Why Northwestern can cover
The Wildcats' defense is led by a solid linebacking corps, including senior linebackers Chris Bergin, Blake Gallagher and Paddy Fisher. Bergin leads the team in tackles with 36, including 20 solo. He also has three pass breakups and one interception for five yards. His best game was a 12-tackle performance at Iowa on Oct. 31. For his career, Bergin has 180 tackles, including 92 solo, with five pass breakups, 1.5 sacks and one interception.
Gallagher is second on the Wildcats with 34 stops, including 17 solo, with one sack for 10 yards. He also has two pass breakups and one interception. He had a monster game in Northwestern's win over Nebraska, when he made 14 tackles, including eight solo. Fisher has 33 tackles, including 20 solo, with one pass breakup and one fumble recovery. He had 13 stops in the Nebraska contest.
How to make Wisconsin vs. Northwestern picks
SportsLine's model is leaning under on the total. In fact, it says Mertz will be held to fewer than 170 yards passing and one touchdown, while Northwestern running backs will be held to fewer than 110 yards and one score. It has also generated an against-the-spread pick that cashes in well over 50 percent of simulations. You can only get the pick at SportsLine.
So who wins Northwestern vs. Wisconsin? And which side of the spread cashes in well over 50 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Wisconsin vs. Northwestern spread to jump on, all from the advanced model that is up almost $3,900 on its top-rated college football spread picks, and find out.