Northwestern opens up the season at home with a Big Ten battle against Michigan State. Northwestern enters this game with redemption on the mind. Michigan state defeated the soaring Wildcats last season 29-20, which ultimately derailed Northwestern’s superb season. Michigan State had a below average season last year with only 2 wins. But, those 2 wins did come against Michigan and Northwestern. Northwestern will field a very different team Friday night than who the Spartans saw last year. Northwestern only returns 34% of its starters from last year. This is darn near the worst in all of college football. Out with the old and in with the new. Leading this Northwestern Team will be 5* Clemson transfer Hunter Johnson. Johnson will be throwing behind an OL that returns 3 starters. The Northwestern Defense will also look very different. Formations will now be signaled by new DC Jim O’Neil. O’Neil has experience coaching as DC on several NFL teams. The Wildcats top trackers Paddy Fischer, Blake Gallagher, and Greg Newsome are all gone. What the Wildcats defense will look like will be a question mark to enter the season.
Moving on to Michigan State, at the time of writing this article, it is unannounced who will be the starting QB. Mel Tucker has been very tight lipped on whether Payton Thorne or graduate Transfer Andrew Russo will open up the season as the starter. Russo transfers in from Temple and Thorne spent the past year as back up behind Rocky Lombardi. Both QB’s have received praise in summer camp. Wake Forest transfer Keneth Walker is expected to handle the bulk of the carries. The Spartans also return top receiver Jaylon Nailor. The Spartans return 17 starters from last years underwhelming season.
Northwestern opened at -6 point favorites and the no one has wanted anything to do with them. 80% of bets are coming in the Spartans, and the line has nose dived down to -3. The total opened at 45 and is still at 45. 70ish% of bets have come in on the Over making the under slightly sharp.
I have zero reason to trust the wild cats as they step into this game with an unproven QB and 66% of their production gone from last season. But I also have limited reason to trust Michigan state, as they struggled last season and also have a unnamed and unproven QB. I’ll back the home team with the better coach and revenge on the mind. Give me the Wildcats in old school big ten game.
The pick: Northwestern -3.5