Northwestern Wildcats vs. Wisconsin Badgers Odds, College Football Betting Pick ColumnistSeptember 28, 2017

Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor warms up before the start of an NCAA college football game against BYU, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, in Provo, Utah. (AP Photo/Kim Raff)
Kim Raff/Associated Press

The Northwestern Wildcats dropped their road opener this season, but they've actually been a great road bet over recent seasons. Last year the Wildcats went 3-2 straight up and 4-1 against the spread away from home, and over the last three-plus seasons, they're 9-6 SU and 10-5 ATS on the road.

Northwestern is a road dog to open Big Ten play against the Wisconsin Badgers on Saturday at Camp Randall.

College football point spread: The Badgers opened as 14.5-point favorites, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (line updates and matchup report available here)

College football betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 42.5-22.7 Badgers (college football picks on every game available here)

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Why the Northwestern Wildcats can cover the spread

Northwestern is 2-1 on the season after blowing out Bowling Green two weeks ago 49-7. The Wildcats then enjoyed last week off.

Northwestern took an early 7-0 lead on the Falcons, gave up a tying touchdown and scored the final 42 points of the game to easily cover a 21-point spread. On the evening, the Wildcats outgained Bowling Green 678-352 and outrushed the Falcons 303-96. Quarterback Clayton Thorson completed 23 of 30 throws for 370 yards and two touchdowns, running back Justin Jackson ran 18 times for 121 yards and three scores, and tight end Garrett Dickerson caught nine balls for 150 yards.

Meanwhile, the Northwestern defense made maybe the biggest play of the game on a strip/fumble return as the Falcons were driving to tie the score in the second quarter.

The Wildcats lost to Wisconsin last year 21-7, but that was a one-score game until midway through the fourth quarter. And Northwestern beat the Badgers the previous two seasons.

Why the Wisconsin Badgers can cover the spread

Wisconsin is 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS this season after blowing out BYU in Provo two weeks ago 40-6. The Badgers then also enjoyed last week off.

UW took an early 3-0 lead on the Cougars, allowed a tying field goal and scored the next 21 points to take control. The Badgers later tacked on the last 16 points of the game to secure the cover as 14-point favorites.

Wisconsin outgained BYU 491-192, outrushed the Cougars 235-81 and dominated time of possession by a 40/20 margin. QB Alex Hornibrook hit on 18 of 19 passes for 256 yards and four touchdowns and RB Jonathan Taylor ran 18 times for 128 yards and one score. Meanwhile the Badgers defense made a pair of picks, setting up 10 Wisconsin points, and recorded a safety.

The Badgers have won their first three games by an average score of 43-10.

Smart pick

Wisconsin will probably win this game, but Northwestern has been a great pain in the butt for the Badgers recently. The Wildcats are actually 6-5 SU over the last 11 meetings, even though they've been the underdog every time. Smart money takes the points here at online sports betting sites.

College football betting trends

The total has gone under in Northwestern's last four games against Wisconsin.

Northwestern is 1-4 SU and ATS in its last five games on the road against Wisconsin.

The visiting team is 2-8 SU and ATS in its last 10 games in this matchup.

All college football odds and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and the OddsShark YouTube page for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app.