It's time for this week's picks. Our team isn't phased by the 10.5-point line in favor of Wisconsin.
Kevin Trahan (@k_trahan)
I see Northwestern starting fast once again, getting an early stop on defense and a couple early touchdowns. However, Wisconsin's run game will start to get going in the second and third quarters, helping the Badgers get back into the game. But NU's red zone defense will come up big, holding Wisconsin to field goals, and the Wildcats will get the passing game going, creating some space for the run and the zone read. Ultimately, NU will escape with a one-point win.
Northwestern 31, Wisconsin 30
Chris Johnson (@ChrisDJohnsonn)
When I learned earlier this week that Wisconsin opened as a 10-point favorite against Northwestern, I was puzzled. Why were the Badgers, an unranked team, favored to beat – and not just beat, but beat resoundingly – a ranked team fresh off a 10 point loss (which was really more like a four-point loss) by double digits? Sure, Wisconsin is coming off a bye-week, and yes, there’s reason to fear an “emotional let down” after a team hosts one of the most important games in program history to cap a week of exhaustive national media coverage. But do those factors alone amount to more than a 10-point deficit? What am I missing here? The evidence doesn’t add up.
Which is about when I came to my senses and realized: ah, Vegas knows something. They always know something. Whenever you see point spreads that don’t really make sense, that don’t seem to define the disparity between two seemingly evenly matched teams, that simply don’t compute – you go with the weird. In this case, that means laying the points, and picking Wisconsin. Congratulations bookmakers, you’ve officially screwed with my ability to rationally pick football games.
Wisconsin 40, Northwestern 24
Callie Counsellor (@CCounsellor)
It will all come down to the lines—if Northwestern’s defensive line can disrupt Wisconsin’s offensive line and slow the running game, they have enough firepower to outscore the Badgers. Otherwise Wisconsin will wear them down like they have many an opponent in the past. I think Will Hampton and Chance Carter will step up at the defensive tackle positions in Sean McEvilly’s absence and NU will finally win a close one in the fourth quarter.
Northwestern 31, Wisconsin 27
Josh Rosenblat (@JMRosenblat)
I just don’t see Northwestern losing back-to-back games. Why? It really doesn’t have much to do with football. I think the team has completely moved past the loss to Ohio State. They know they played well enough to win, but they also know that if they want to get to the Rose Bowl, they will, in all likelihood, have to go through Ohio State again. Last week gave the Wildcats confidence that they can play with anyone for a whole 60 minutes and I think that momentum carries them through to this week where they escape Madison with a gutty victory.
Northwestern 41, Wisconsin 35
Nate Williams (@BigEasyCat44)
Uh oh... We are playing the big bad Badgers Saturday in their house. They are the team I was most nervous about after weeks 3 & 4. Am I still nervous? Not really, no. They win the Big Boy challenge as usual, but I think we have their number in every other category. I don't feel the least bit worried about our offense. I think if we can convert more in the red zone I think we put up big points in this game.
Defense is the big question. Are their RBs going to run all over us like Hyde? Doubtful. This might be the biggest night/day change in opponent and our likely game plan we'll see this year. If the game plan is what I think it will be, then I feel confident that our defense will at the very least provide us solid chances to win the game.
I think we see a couple critical turnovers and a big special teams play in favor of the 'Cats in a big win at Camp Randall.
Northwestern 38, Wisconsin 27 (Sorry guys, you'll never see me call it any other way unless we play Bama)