It was a productive bye week for the Michigan Wolverines football team in advance of playing Northwestern this weekend.
As they idled, Michigan managed to climb up two spots in the Associated Press Top 25 rankings to No. 6.
Well rested, will the Wolverines continue their unbeaten ways with a dominant win over the Wildcats at home?
Michigan heavily favored at home vs. Northwestern
The Wolverines are a definitive favorite in their return to the field this week.
Oddsmakers have Michigan as a 21.5-point home favorite across the board against Northwestern.
When it comes to the moneyline, there aren’t many good offers for UM. The Wolverines are ranging from -1400 to -1600. The Wildcats are listed anywhere from +825 to +900.
The over/under total for the contest was listed at 50 points by the oddsmakers on Monday morning.
Michigan is 5-1 against the spread this season, while Northwestern is 2-4 ATS. Both teams have split on the over and under through their six games.
Michigan has dominated the series with Northwestern. UM is 58-15-2 all-time against the Wildcats, including six consecutive victories.
How to watch: Michigan Wolverines vs. Northwestern Wildcats
- What: Northwestern (3-3, 1-2 Big Ten) at Michigan (6-0, 3-0)
- When: Noon ET, Saturday, Oct. 23
- Where: Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor
- TV: FOX (Announcers: Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt, Jenny Taft)
- Online livestream: FOX Sports app
- Radio: Learfield Michigan Sports Network
- Satellite Radio: SiriusXM Channel 196 (Michigan); SiriusXM Channel 383 (Northwestern)
Michigan escapes Nebraska before bye week
Michigan moved to 6-0 on the season two weeks ago with a 32-29 thriller at Nebraska, thanks to a field goal from Jake Moody with 1:24 to play.
It was a rollercoaster second half, both for Michigan betting odds and also their unbeaten fortunes tehemselves.. They led 13-0 at halftime, but found themselves trailing 29-26 with seven minutes to play. That’s when Michigan manufactured a pair of field-goal drives over the final minutes.
Michigan did some good things offensively, garnering 459 total yards. However, their defense had its worst showing yet. The Wolverines allowed 431 total yards, including 291 passing yards to the Cornhuskers. It was a far cry from their average of 190.7 passing yards per game allowed.
Cade McNamara had his busiest game of the season, throwing 38 times while completing 22 passes for 255 yards. He didn’t have a touchdown and threw his first career interception.
Michigan’s ground game was very effective in the win. Hassan Haskins rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries, while Blake Corum had 89 yards and a TD on 13 carries.
Wolverines inching toward top 5
In the past two weeks, Michigan has seen some big names suffer losses in front of them.
Penn State suffered a 23-20 loss at Iowa two weeks ago, the same day Alabama was upset by Texas A&M.
This past weekend, the second-ranked Hawkeyes took their first loss in a surprising 24-7 setback at home to Purdue.
Michigan is now No. 6 in the rankings. Ohio State is the only Big Ten Conference team ahead of them at No. 5. Penn State is No. 7, while fellow in-state unbeaten Michigan State sits in ninth.
When it comes to winning the Big Ten, DraftKings Sportsbook now has Michigan at +425 to claim the conference crown. Only Ohio State, the favorite, has shorter odds at -140.
The Wolverines are sitting sixth in the College Football Playoff odds race. U-M is listed at +3500 to win the national title right now. Georgia is the favorite at +120, while Alabama is at +240 and Ohio State is at +800.
Best odds for season-long futures are listed below.
Although McNamara doesn’t have overwhelming stats this season, he still is in the Heisman Trophy race, with +10000 odds according to BetMGM Sportsbook.
McNamara is 72-for-119 passing on the season with 986 yards and five touchdowns to his one interception. His passing yards rank 88th nationally, while his completions rank just 103rd nationally.
Michigan has shown discipline in recent ‘trap games’
Should Michigan win this week, it sets up a matchup of unbeatens next week at Michigan State.
However, the Wolverines have been good at not looking ahead to the Spartans.
Since 2015, Michigan has won by at least 18 points in each game prior to playing Michigan State.
That run includes a 49-24 win at Minnesota last year, as well as a 38-7 victory at Maryland in 2019.
Northwestern alternating wins, losses
Northwestern has not had consecutive wins or losses this season, alternating between both each game.
The Wildcats are coming off a 21-7 victory at home over Rutgers this past weekend.
Defense carried the load in the win, as it held the Scarlet Knights to just 222 yards of offense.
This season, Northwestern has done well against the pass, allowing just 205.2 yards per game. However, the Wildcats rank 119th in rushing defense. They are allowing 208.2 yards per game on the ground, which doesn’t bode well against Michigan’s seventh-ranked rushing attack.
Offensively, Northwestern put up more than 400 yards on Rutgers, but averages just 374.7 yards per game on the season.
Ryan Hilinski has settled in at quarterback, throwing for over 250 yards in each of the past two games. He has three touchdowns and no interceptions on the season.
Evan Hull has been the leading rusher, with 562 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.