Northwestern has opened as 4.5 point underdogs for its August 30 season-opener at Purdue, according to lines via Vegas Insider as of May 21.
This doesn’t come as a huge surprise, for a few reasons.
First, the game is in West Lafeyette, and home field typically accounts for somewhere from 2.5-3.5 points (not that the gameday atmosphere in West Lafeyette is anything to write home about). On a neutral field, Purdue would still be favored, but by a smaller margin.
Plus, the uncertainty regarding Clayton Thorson’s health is working against NU here. It’s unclear if he’ll be ready to play Week 1, and, while the line likely takes this uncertainty into account, he would likely swing the line toward NU by several points if he were a lock to play.
Purdue is also considered a rising program entering Jeff Brohm’s second season as head coach. There is some uncertainty under center for Brohm’s team too, but not in the same way. Elijah Sindelar and David Blough are both experienced, and there will be a competition throughout the summer to determine who starts Week 1.
Still, for a Northwestern team that retains a lot of talent from a top 25 finish last season, the line reflects some national skepticism that the Wildcats were fortunate to win 10 games — including three straight in overtime — a season ago.
Here are the other Week 1 lines in the Big Ten:
- Michigan State (-27) vs. Utah State
- Minnesota (-14.5) vs. New Mexico State
- Wisconsin (-33) vs. Western Kentucky
- Ohio State (-38) vs. Oregon State
- Penn State (-27) vs. Appalachian State
- Iowa (-13) vs. Northern Illinois
- Nebraska (-18.5) vs. Akron
- Illinois (-14.5) vs. Kent State
- Rutgers (-13.5) vs. Texas State
- Indiana (-13) at Florida International
- Maryland (+10.5) vs. Texas
- Michigan (+2) at Notre Dame