Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#157 Northwestern vs.
#158 Duke
Saturday, September 18, 2021 at 4:00pm EDT
Written by Blake V.

Northwestern and Duke will meet on Saturday afternoon in what is expected to be one of the closest games of the Week 3 college football schedule. The Wildcats lost to Michigan State to open the season, but they bounced back with a comfortable win over Indiana State. Duke was upset by Charlotte before responding with a 45-17 win over North Carolina A&T.

Northwestern listed as slight road favorites

Northwestern got off to a bad start this year, dropping a 38-21 final against Michigan State. The Wildcats entered the game as 3-point home favorites, but they allowed a 75-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage and never recovered. Michigan State took a 21-7 lead into halftime and held a comfortable lead the rest of the way. Northwestern was able to bounce back last week, scoring 14 points in the opening quarter against Indiana State. The Wildcats allowed a touchdown with 3:32 left in the game, but they did not allow any other scoring.

Clemson transfer Hunter Johnson starts at quarterback for Northwestern. He sat out during last season and is 39 of 59 for 349 yards, four touchdowns and one interception through two games. Johnson has been sacked six times, so the offensive line will be looking for better protection in this contest. Sophomore running back Evan Hull leads the rushing attack with 31 carries for 213 yards, good for 6.9 yards per carry. Freshman Anthony Tyus III has added 18 attempts for 84 yards. Senior wide receiver Stephon Robinson Jr. has caught nine passes for 95 yards and a touchdown. He had five receptions for 79 yards against Michigan State.

Duke hoping defense plays more aggressively

Duke got off to a disappointing season as well, dropping a 31-28 final against Charlotte in Week 1. The Blue Devils took a 28-24 lead with 1:44 left in the game when Mataeo Durant broke away for a 53-yard touchdown run, but their defense allowed Charlotte to score a game-winning touchdown with 0:33 left. They did bounce back from that loss with a 45-17 blowout against North Carolina A&T. The game was tied 14-14 late in the second quarter, but Duke went on a 31-3 run to close the game. The Blue Devils were 9 of 15 on third down and 1 of 1 on fourth down.

Duke lost nine of its ten games against Power Five opponents last season. It picked up a 21-7 win over Kansas State in 2018. Durant, a senior, leads the ACC in rushing yards, touchdowns, and all-purpose yards through two weeks. His six touchdowns are the most of any player in the FBS. Duke’s offense avoided a turnover for the first time in 20 games last week, which allowed them to score 45 points. The Blue Devils have not forced a turnover defensively, though, so they will be looking for a more aggressive approach going forward.

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Full-Game Side Bet

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Rating:

Duke seems to have the blueprint to beating Northwestern on Saturday afternoon. The Wildcats were gashed by Michigan State’s running back in Week 1. Durant might be even better than Kenneth Walker. He has been shredding defenses throughout his career and is leading the country in all-purpose yards right now. I do not trust Northwestern’s front seven to contain him, which leads me to believe there is value on the home dog. The Blue Devils are averaging more than 500 yards per game, which puts them in the top 20 in the country.

Prediction: Duke +3

Full-Game Total Pick

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Rating:

This is a very low total. It is so low that I think one of these teams could come close to cashing the over on their own. Duke has been one of the best offensive teams in the country so far this year, but its defense has had some struggles. The Blue Devils have not been able to figure out a strong set of linebackers, which does not bode well against Northwestern. The Wildcats are good enough to take advantage of a defense that does not force turnovers. Duke has now gone over the total in eight of its last 11 games. It is not very complicated when the Blue Devils are on the field—take the over.

Prediction: Over 50
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Written By Blake Von Hagen , "Blake V."

Blake is a lifelong sports fan and hoops junkie. Prior to joining our team at Winners & Whiners and StatSalt, Blake worked for several newspapers and websites. He enjoys combining his beat writing expertise with the knack for finding the winning edge in a matchup. Blake is also an avid sports being expert and you would not be disappointed in following him on a daily basis. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.