Our weekly predictions roll along as our staff selects a projected winner between the Wildcats and the Rebels. Are, like last year against Akron, the picks of Northwestern football over a significant underdog unanimous? Find out:
Eli Karp: Northwestern 31, UNLV 10
No, this isn’t a given. We all know that. But UNLV presents matchups on each side of the ball that the Wildcats can exploit. It won’t be pretty from a NU offense continuing to work out the kinks, but it’ll do plenty against a simply unimpressive UNLV defense. For Mike Hankwitz’s defense, I expect plenty of stacked boxes to counter a strong run game and force quarterback Armani Rogers to beat them through the air. This IS a team that was just thrashed 43-17 by Arkansas State. Give me a comfortable, albeit imperfect win.
Lia Assimakopoulos: Northwestern 27, UNLV 14
Northwestern is ready to turn things around this weekend and get its first win. The Wildcats outmatch the Rebels in almost every category and will use their talents to secure a much-needed victory.
Hunter Johnson will overcome the nerves and put up solid numbers against a struggling UNLV defense. Northwestern’s defense, meanwhile, will contain whichever player UNLV starts under center and improve on its tackling woes but will give up two touchdowns to Charles Williams. Having a week to recover both mentally and physically was exactly what the Wildcats needed, and this weekend will push them in the right direction for the tough stretch that is just around the corner.
Noah Coffman: Northwestern 26, UNLV 20
With no Bowser and a slight lack of depth on the defensive line adding to Northwestern’s classic mid-September struggles, this one will turn out uglier than it has any right to be. Remember: Bill Connelly’s SP+ only has the Wildcats favored by 9.7. The defense and offense will each overcome slow starts as they continue to round into form and Charles Williams gets going for the Rebels, with Hunter Johnson and co. taking a bit longer to do so, and NU will (eventually) reign in a nearly unwatchable game. Football!
Matt Albert: Northwestern 31, UNLV 7
Yes I am optimistic, but two more weeks under the Wildcats’ belt and a lesser opponent should allow Northwestern to blow the doors off of the Rebels. Hunter Johnson will have time in the pocket to make good passes, reminding fans of his talent, and the Northwestern offense picks apart the gaps in the UNLV defense. The Wildcat defense comes up with at least two turnovers and UNLV struggles to get out of their own side of the field.
Jacob Brown: Northwestern 24, UNLV 7
Northwestern football as a favorite is free money. Always take the opposing team and the under. I predict that NU’s defense comes out and stifles the UNLV offense. NU’s strength should be it’s run defense. With UNLV having a sketchy QB situation at best, and an offense based around running back Charles Williams, NU could feasibly shut UNLV out. However, I think Hunter has some initial struggles, and UNLV punches it in after an NU turnover. I see Hunter settling in near halftime and controlling the game in the second half, leading NU to a win in a low scoring game.
Joe Weinberg: Northwestern 21, UNLV 10
Northwestern wins an ugly one thanks to huge days from Jesse Brown on the ground and Joe Gaziano in the trenches.
Avery Zimmerman: Northwestern 24, UNLV 13
The offense does just enough to make it a sweat-free fourth quarter.
Colin Kruse: Northwestern 27, UNLV 10
The bye week will allow ‘Cats defense will step up, not miss as many tackles as two weeks ago at Stanford, force some turnovers, and shut down the Rebels offense. Hunter Johnson will ease into the game and lead some good drives down the field, but plenty of questions on the offensive side of the ball are still going to linger for a few weeks.
Special teams and defense will win the field position battle to give Mick McCall’s offense a shorter field. Anything can happen in a non-conference home game (as seen with last year’s debacle against Akron), but UNLV is coming off a terrible loss to Arkansas State. The ‘Cats should use this game as an opportunity to move forward.
Lucio Vainesman: Northwestern 24, UNLV 6
The front seven for the ‘Cats will continue to dominate the game, much like it did in spurts against Stanford. A couple of turnovers will be in the mix, setting the stage for a low scoring game. The offense will manage to put enough points on the board, even though the drives may not look as surgical as one would hope. A game like this can provide a much needed confidence boost for the whole team. At the same time, it could also be a season defining upset like Akron from a year ago.
William Karmin: Northwestern 31, UNLV 10
Without Isaiah Bowser, Northwestern will rely heavily on Hunter Johnson to sling the ball against a poor UNLV defense. Johnson’s talent will be on full display and NU will cruise to an easy victory. The defense will generate at least two turnovers, including a J.R. Pace interception. The run defense may struggle as UNLV has a strong rushing attack, but the Wildcats will still win. NU enters Big Ten play with renewed energy and optimism.
2019 Inside NU Prediction Standings:
Noah Coffman: 1-0
Joe Weinberg: 1-0
Caleb Friedman: 1-0
Avery Zimmerman: 0-1
Matt Albert: 0-1
Eli Karp: 0-1
Lia Assimakopoulos: 0-1
Colin Kruse: 0-1
William Karmin: 0-1
Graham Brennan: 0-1