Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#343 UMass vs.
#344 Northwestern
Saturday, November 16, 2019 at 12:00pm EST
Written by Adam Rauzino

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#343 University of Massachusetts Amherst
#344 Northwestern University
1-9
1-8
1-9
2-7
8-2
3-6
20
11
53
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The Northwestern Wildcats will host the Massachusetts Minutemen in a late-season inter-conference battle Saturday afternoon from Ryan Field. The Minutemen were crushed 63-7 by Army last week, and the Wildcats are coming off a 24-22 home loss to Purdue in their latest action. There are no previous matchups between these two teams.

Minutemen Defense Stumbles Again in 5th Straight Loss

The Massachusetts Minutemen continue to get shelled by their opposition. The Minutemen have the worst defense in the FBS and their struggles resumed in an ugly 63-7 road loss to Army last week in a game that had UMass labeled as 34.5 point dogs. The Minutemen usually give both Andrew Brito and Randall West playing time. Brito has seen the most action. The junior QB has tallied 763 passing yards with a 7:6 TD to INT ratio, while West has 558 passing yards with four touchdowns against four picks.

UMass has experienced some success on the ground. Bilal Ally is having a strong season, accumulating 660 rushing yards on an average of 5.3 yards per attempt. The junior back has rushed for at least 90 yards three times. The Minutemen do not have a receiver with over 300 receiving yards. Jermaine Johnson Jr. leads the way with 284 yards. UMass has scored 21 or fewer points in three out of their last four games.

The Minutemen defense is having an abysmal season. They haven’t been able to stop any opponent and have surrendered over 50 points five times this season. Umass’ lone win occurred against Akron. They are currently averaging 20.7 points, ranking them 113th in the FBS. The Minutemen have an awful defense that is squandering an average of 53.1 points, placing the last at 130th overall, and they own a 0-5 road record.

Northwestern Stuck at One Victory

The Northwestern Wildcats' disastrous season continues. Northwestern has dropped seven consecutive games which included a 24-22 home loss to Purdue in a tilt that had the Wildcats as a one-point favorite. They also remain winless in Big Ten play. Northwestern has rotated between Hunter Johnson and Aidan Smith this season. Smith got the start last week and tallied 181 passing yards. Both QB’s are struggling in a big way. Smith has 684 passing yards 3:7 TD to INT ratio, and Johnson has 432 passing yards with a 1:4 TD to INT ratio.

The Wildcats usually run the ball more than pass. They are led by Drake Anderson. The freshman back has rushed for less than 60 yards in four straight games, and he has a total of 498 rushing yards. Riley Lees has made 13 receptions in his last two games, and he has collected 254 receiving yards on the season. The Wildcats offense has struggled both on the air and on the ground.

The Northwestern defense has been the lone bright spot this season. They have contained some of their Big Ten opponents this season with a pass defense that stands 34th in the FBS, while their rush defense is at 56th. The Wildcats are only averaging 11.1 points, pegging them down at 129th in the country. They are allowing an average of 25.4 points, positioning them 50th in the FBS. Northwestern stands at 1-4 on their home field.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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I like Northwestern in this matchup of two struggling teams. This might appear to be a high spread, but it isn't when you consider UMass just lost by 57 points. Massachusetts is arguably the worst team in the entire FBS that ranks near the bottom in most offensive and defensive categories. Northwestern features a solid defense, and they are battle-tested playing in the tough Big Ten, while UMass has played mostly against smaller conference teams. Northwestern features the 34th ranked pass defense and they have held their opponent to 24 or fewer points in six out of their last nine games.

Furthermore, the Wildcats offense should do enough to lead to the cover against a terrible defense. The Minutemen have surrendered at least 56 points in four consecutive games.  Their defense ranks last in the country in total yards against, rushing yards per game, and points allowed.

Prediction: Northwestern Wildcats

Full-Game Total Pick

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I am going for the under in this one. The total can be difficult to assess when Massachusetts is involved due to their defense, but in this case, I believe the under is the way to go. Northwestern’s offense is the worst in the Big Ten. They have scored 10 or fewer points in four out of their last five games. While I obviously expect much more than 10 points, I don’t see them putting up a drastic number, plus the under is 4-1 in their last five home games.

Another factor that leads me to the under is the Wildcats defense. They should completely silence the Minutemen who can’t get anything going. They rank 125th in the FBS with an average of only 291 total yards per game, and the Wildcats defense is a strength. The under is 43-16-1 in Northwestern’s last 60 home games and it should cash again in this one.

Prediction: Under

Full-Game Prop Bet

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The under on the Massachusetts team total offered on PointsBet is solid prop. The Minutemen were shutout against FIU earlier this season and only managed seven points at Army last week. Their QB’s have combined for a rough 13:14 TD to INT ratio and their running game isn’t strong enough to generate significant offense. Northwestern’s defense has been their only bright spot, and they are limiting opponents to 349 total yards per game, good for 38th overall.

Prediction: Massachusetts Team Total Under

Half-Time Side Pick

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Northwestern should have a comfortable lead at the half. UMass is last in the FBS with an average of only 37 points allowed in the first half and 39.7 points in their last three games. The Wildcats defense is decent in the opening half where they are holding opponents to 13.7 points over their last three games.

Prediction: Northwestern Wildcats
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Written By Adam Rauzino

Adam has been a sports fanatic his entire life, closely following hockey, baseball, basketball and football. Adam enjoys analyzing various stats, as well as studying Sabermetrics and analytics to take his picks to a whole new level. Adam has a passion for writing about various sports as well as personal finance and has brought his talents to us here at Winners and Whiners. He graduated with a diploma in business marketing and business finance.