Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Northwestern Wildcats Preview and Pick – Point Spread – Betting Odds

Penn State Nittany Lions (7-1, 4-4 ATS) vs. Northwestern Wildcats (5-3, 2-5 ATS), Ryan Field, Evanston, Saturday, Oct. 31st, 4:30 PM Eastern, ESPN
By Z-Man of

Point Spread: Penn State -15/Northwestern +15
Over/Under: 47

Bet this game at a sportsbook that offers massive 21 point college football teasers: Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Northwestern Wildcats.

Coach Joe’s Penn State Nittany Lions look to stay in the hunt for a Big 10 championship when they visit Chicagoland to take on the Northwestern Wildcats Saturday afternoon.

Most online sportsbooks opened this game with Penn State favored by 13 or 14 points, but as of Thursday morning that number had been bumped to -15 at most places. The total hangs right around 47.

The Lions are also being offered at right around -700 on most college football betting moneylines, although some outlets are listing them much lower. Northwestern is getting upwards of +500.

Penn State opened this season with easy wins over Akron, Syracuse and Temple, then got beat by Iowa at Happy Valley. Since then the Lions have beaten Illinois, Eastern Illinois, Minnesota and, last week, Michigan at the Big House 35-10.

Northwestern opened the season with wins over Towson and Eastern Michigan, then lost to Syracuse and Minnesota. The ‘Cats then rallied from 21-3 down to win 27-21 at Purdue, and beat Miami (Ohio), before losing by ten at Michigan State. Last week Northwestern fell behind Indiana 28-3 before coming back to win 29-28 on a field goal in the last 20 seconds.

So at 3-1 in conference play, the Lions sit a game back of first-place Iowa in the Big 10 standings, while the Wildcats are tied for fifth at 2-2.

Penn State, at 7-1 and ranked 12th in the newest BCS standings, is still in the running for a major bowl bid. At 5-3, Northwestern needs a couple more wins to lock up a bowl berth.

In the match-up of quarterbacks in this game, Lions senior QB Daryll Clark has completed 62% of his passes this season for 8.1 YPA, which ain’t bad, 17 TDs and seven INTs. Meanwhile, Wildcats senior QB Mike Kafka has hit on 66% of his throws this season for 6.9 YPA, nine touchdowns and seven interceptions.


Playing a rather easy schedule so far this season, Penn State is outgaining opponents, on average, by a 428-240 YPG margin, and outrushing foes 184-80.

Northwestern, playing a similar caliber of schedule, is outgaining opponents 393-338, and outrushing them 122-118.

If Penn State can get by the Wildcats Saturday, they will host Ohio State next week in a game that will knock one of them out of the race for the conference championship.

Thanks to the ridiculous unbalanced schedule in the Big 10, these two teams haven’t met since 2006.

The totals are 2-6 in Lions games this season, mainly because opponents have scored a total of just 71 points.

The O/Us are 3-4 in Wildcats games, which are averaging 51 points.

Penn State is rated at 85.9 by the Sagarin PREDICTOR rankings at, Northwestern at 62.6. Factoring in Sagarin’s updated college football home-field advantage figure of 3.3, and the Lions are 20-point favorites over the Purple Cats on the Sagarin line.

So far this college football season, teams ranked in the USA Today coaches’ top 25 are 117-20 straight up vs. unranked teams, but only 58-63 vs. the pointspreads.

Z-Man’s Pick: Penn State should dominate this game but I like NW to stay within the spread as 3 scores is a bit much for PSU to be laying on the road vs. a decent team.