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Predictions: NU vs. Western Michigan

It's pretty obvious who we all will pick to win this week, so we're mixing it up a little bit. At a line of 30.5, we each pick whether NU will cover.

Kevin Trahan (@k_trahan)

I expect this game to go a lot like the South Dakota game last year. Northwestern will jump out to a big early lead and have at least 21 points in the first quarter. The second quarter will be more of the same, with the Wildcats covering the spread by halftime. However, NU will just milk the clock in the second half — expect to see a lot of Zack Oliver handoffs — and Western Michigan will get a few passing touchdowns against the backups in the NU secondary. The Wildcats just miss out on covering the spread.

Score: Northwestern 45, Western Michigan 17; Cover: No

Chris Johnson (@ChrisDJohnsonn)

Let’s not kid ourselves: this game isn’t going to be very competitive. Unless Northwestern totally overlooks the Broncos – and given Pat Fitzgerald’s laser-eyed focus, and general reluctance to look ahead to future games (besides the Big Ten championship game, which is more of a prize-in-the-distance type of thing) – the Wildcats should have this wrapped up by the end of the first quarter.

I’m interested to see Northwestern delve deep into its depth chart, roll out the second and third-stringers, and showcase the depth Fitzgerald has raved about all spring and summer. Third-string quarterback Zack Oliver looked great in preseason camp, but he has only thrown two passes this season. He should get plenty of opportunities Saturday (and against Maine). Even against a MAC secondary, which is probably best understood as a rough approximation of what you’d see from a high school 7 on 7 tournament in South Texas, Oliver’s performance will be telling. He should compete with redshirt freshman Matt Alviti for the backup QB job next season, and these next two weeks are his best chance to leave a strong impression outside of a practice setting.

Score: Northwestern 41, Western Michigan 20; Cover: No

Callie Counsellor (@CCounsellor)

Western Michigan lost to Nicholls State. At home. I have nothing else to say.

Score: Northwestern 42, Western Michigan 7; Cover: Yes

Josh Rosenblat (@JMRosenblat)

Which Western Michigan will Northwestern see on Saturday night? Will it be the one that lost to Michigan State by 13 points in week one, or the one that lost to Nicholls State, the pride of the FCS’ Southland Conference? Either way, I don’t see Northwestern covering the 30.5-point spread. I don’t expect Venric Mark to play and I also don’t expect many of the skill position starters to play deep into the second half. To make this prediction more fun, though, I do think that wide receiver Kyle Prater will catch a touchdown pass in this game. But overall, Northwestern should get up big on Western Michigan, but not big enough to cover that daunting point spread.

Score: Northwestern 41, Western Michigan 17; Cover: No

Nate Williams (@BigEasyCat44)

Going to be a long night for WMU Broncos (I hate when teams steal logos from NFL teams). Thank the lord this game is not at WMU, because they would have their goodluck DJ. I don't know if I can take this team or the coach that leads this team seriously. I mean have you seen all the videos of PJ Fleck and the “new traditions”? Love the passion, but come on Coach, no one can take you seriously when you’re doing things like this.

If Sparty's offense can score points on WMU and FCS Nicholls can hang up 447 yards of total offense, I am really concerned for the Broncos. I think we see career days out of Colter, Siemian, and maybe even Treyvon Green (I think Mark is used sparingly, if he even dresses). My surprise player is Kyle Prater, we saw him get targeted a lot last week. I think he has a big day. I know Spartys D-Line had their ways with the WMU O-Line and I expect the same from us. I see 4 Sacks & 4 turnovers, as the Western Michigan Broncos are forced to row, row, row their boat across Lake Michigan back home to Kalamazoo.

Score: Northwestern 59, Western Michigan 14; Cover: Yes

Jon Davis (@NUHighlights)

Who wants to see the twos!? I do, actually. Expect few starters in the second half. Plenty of Oliver handoffs to guys like Malin Jones, Hanrahan, Buckley, and apparently Warren Long. Hopefully we'll get a quick game and get out of there by 11 PM. 35-6 at the half, 48-16 at the end with at least one non-Budzien FG.

Score: Northwestern 48, Western Michigan 16; Cover: Yes